Camas Blouse Sew-Along Announcement February 11 2016

Camas Blouse Sew-Along

Many of you have asked for it…a Camas Blouse sew-along complete with all of the bells and whistles!  Join me while I make several blouses this February.  The sew-along will begin next Monday, January 25th and it will be posted on our website indefinitely so that you can follow along whenever you feel inclined to embark on a Camas Blouse project.

Here is what we will be covering during this sew-along:

  1. Monday Jan. 25th: Choose your fabric and notions
  2. Wednesday Jan. 27th: Select a size and perform fit adjustments
  3. Friday Jan. 29th: Sew the Camas Blouse in a woven fabric (with no stretch)
  4. Monday Feb. 1st: Camas Blouse hacks – create a cardigan or dress, adjust the sleeve length
  5. Wednesday Feb. 3rd: Cut into your fabric and sew the yokes
  6. Friday Feb. 5th: Sew the sleeves, side seams and hem
  7. Monday Feb. 8th: Sew the blouse placket – 2 ways
  8. Wednesday Feb. 10th: Add closures and style an outfit!

Did you notice?  We will be done our Camas blouses, cardigans and dresses in time to wear them on Valentine’s Day!  Submit your progress shots and your finished blouses out on the town by using #camassewalong or by emailing me at info@threadtheory.ca


Camas Sew-Along: Choose your fabric February 11 2016

Welcome to the first day of the Camas Blouse sew-along!  We are talking about materials today so that you are armed with knowledge when you head out to find your fabric.

 

Photo Credits (Left to Right, Top to Bottom): 1 2 3 4 5 6

When I originally envisioned the Camas Blouse (as part of the fashion collection I designed during the Fashion Design program I took several years ago) I imagined a weightless and elegant blouse that hinted at the playsuits, practical blouse and pant outfits, and rayon dresses that many women wore throughout WWII.  These outfits were comfortable, simple, affordable and, to me, look stylish in a very effortless way.  I designed the Camas for knits as a modern interpretation of this wartime emphasis on practical comfort.

My favorite fabrics for the Camas Blouse have the following categories:

1. A Wonderfully Soft Drape

This is the most important quality if you want the gathers above the bust and just below the back yoke to fall nicely over your body.  Drape is especially important if you are choosing a lightweight fabric – you want the hem to fall smoothly rather than stick out in an awkward manner!

Test the drape of a fabric by unrolling about a metre from the bolt.  Hold it up to your body and see how it falls against curves like your shoulder or bust.  Does it naturally want to conform to the shape of your body or does it retain it’s own shape?  You want it to conform to you pleasingly.  Take special note of this characteristic if you are planning to sew the Camas in a woven.  Many knits contain lovely drape but many blouse-weight wovens do not!

2. Opacity

The Camas consists of a single layer of fabric over the bust so make sure that your fabric is opaque enough to block a full view of your bra (unless this is the fashion statement you are hoping to make!).  I often fall in love with beautiful tissue weight knits only to unfurl them from the rest of the fabric bolt and realize I would be on full display if I wore them as a single layer.

3. Snag Resistance

This category is an important one for me but it might not be necessary for you.  I wear the Camas like I would wear a basic t-shirt.  I wear it hiking, gardening, while petting my cat (the ultimate snag-creator) and sometimes even while playing squash.  The loose fit makes it just as comfortable as a t-shirt but it looks a bit more interesting.  My favorite choices for snag-free and strong knits are jerseys containing bamboo or linen.

Why isn’t stretch in the top 3?

You might have noticed that I haven’t included stretch as one of my top three categories.  I recommend choosing a fabric with at least a very small amount of stretch because the sleeves have been drafted fairly slim since they were originally intended to be sewn from a knit fabric.  Using a fabric with stretch will increase the mobility you have.  The main body of the Camas does not need a stretchy fabric because the yokes (and thus the shoulder width) are drafted for woven contrast fabrics and do not contain negative ease.   All that being said, there are some very easy adjustments that you can make so that you can sew the Camas from a fabric with no stretch at all. We’ll be going over this in more detail in a few days.

Now, to get a bit more specific, here are nine of my top Camas Blouse knit choices!

Descriptions below correspond to the photos above, left to right, top to bottom.  Sorry that the top three photos are blurry!  I really wanted to include Fancy Tiger fabrics despite the small pictures available on their website because Matt and I visited the Denver shop in person a couple of years ago and were in awe of the high quality fabrics they had curated!

Stone Blue Hemp/Cotton Knit from Fancy Tiger: A little bit thick and nicely textured for a casual ‘t-shirt’ style Camas Blouse.

School Plaid Blue Cotton/Spandex Jersey from Fancy Tiger: This is actually one of Girl Charlee’s signature knits and it is knit in the USA.  It has been pre-shrunk which is handy!  A lengthened Camas in this fabric would make a very cute nightgown or tunic.

Line Drawings Bluing Cotton/Spandex Jersey from Fancy Tiger: This is an Art Gallery fabric which, from my experience petting these fabrics, are very soft and a great weight for a knit shirt.

Vine Cotton Interlock from Simplifi Fabric: One of my favorite Canadian shops. :D  This interlock fabric is less drapey than a jersey would be but it is easier to sew because it is more stable!  Plus, isn’t the print gorgeous?  This would be a great choice for someone new to sewing with knits.

Retro Floral Viscose Lycra Jersey from Guthri & Ghani: A British fabric shop! I’ve chosen this print because it reminds me of the 1940’s rayon dresses that were my inspiration for the Camas Blouse.  While I haven’t felt this knit in person, I imagine it is slinky and drapey due to it’s viscose content.  It is likely quite stable and strong because it contains Lycra.  This would make a hard wearing yet dressy looking Camas Blouse.

Sunrise Organic Cotton Jersey from Organic Cotton Plus: A completely organic online fabric shop based in the US.  This jersey is 100% cotton (no spandex content) so it will be quite stable, similar to a men’s t-shirt fabric.  It would make a great ‘every-day’ Camas Blouse that is light weight and easy to wear.  It would take the place of a t-shirt in your wardrobe.

Forest Cotton Bamboo Jersey from Thread Theory: I hope you don’t mind that I’m including a little plug for the fabric that we carry in our shop!  I can’t avoid doing so because the bamboo jersey that we have in the shop is an ideal candidate for the Camas Blouse and is one of the most rugged yet beautiful fabrics I have ever come across (hence why we stock it in our shop!).  The cotton makes this fabric sturdy, the bamboo makes it slinky and hard wearing.  The high spandex content gives a lovely stretch and a weighty drape to the knit.  It is completely opaque in all of it’s colorways.  It doesn’t shrink in the wash and has held up to my terrible laundry practices for years (high heat drying every week).  I’ll be making a Camas using this fabric for the sew-along so you can see exactly how it looks sewn up.

Heathered Almond Cotton Bamboo Jersey from Thread Theory:  Same as above!  This light colourway is very elegant and just as opaque as the darker colors.  I love the heathered texture.

Olive Cotton Bamboo Jersey from Thread Theory:  This is a nice solid (not heathered) in a color that I view as a neutral since olive is my favorite color and I wear it with everything.

Shall we move on to the wovens?

If you are planning to sew the Camas in a woven, here are my top three choices.  We will be talking about ways to adjust the pattern to better suit knits in a future post so refrain from cutting into your woven fabric just yet :).

 

Opal Double Gauze from Organic Cotton Plus: Gauze is loosely woven which gives it quite a nice drape (not super slinky but not stiff like a shirting cotton).  Double Gauze features two layers so it is more likely to be opaque than it’s single layered gauze counterpart.

Ivory Tencel Twill from Blackbird Fabrics: Another Canadian fabric shop!  Tencel is one of my favorite choices for drapey garments.  It is stronger than rayon and usually has a beautiful sheen.  This ivory tencel is no exception!  It would make an extremely luxurious and dressy Camas Blouse with an interesting texture – can you imagine it with pearl and gold buttons?

Black and White Ikat Viscose from Guthri & Ghani: Once we go over a couple of alterations you might like to make when sewing the Camas with a woven, it will be a perfect candidate for all of those slinky viscose novelty prints that you can’t resist at the fabric shop!  Any small to medium print would be lovely – you could even use a complimentary print for the yoke.  I imagine this practice of pairing prints could look either very French chic or very romantically bohemian depending on the colorway.

Now that I’ve given you my two cents about fabric choices, I want you to keep in mind that you are very free to experiment!  I have seen many a successful Camas sewn inthicker knits such as Ponte di Roma or in crisp cottons to create a more structured look than I initially envisioned.  In fact, I’ve done some experimenting in the past myself by making my mom a Camas out of a crisp stretch cotton with very little drape.

As you can see, the blouse looks quite different than my usual Camas projects but it is nice too!  My only critiques of this experiment are that the hem is weightless so the blouse likes to ride up a little so that it billows and buckles if it is not pulled down.  Also, the fabric wrinkles easily because it is not fitted to the body with this style of blouse.

Now that we’ve talked fabric, let’s move on to discussing notions for this project.

Knit Interfacing:

 

Knit interfacing is usually light weight and contains stretch in at least one direction.  In the Camas Blouse instructions I state that you should interface all of your placket pieces.  The interfacing helps to stabilize these narrow little pieces so that they are easier to sew (they won’t roll up quite so much) and so that they are stable enough to handle all of the needle piercing involved in sewing buttonholes.  Wouldn’t it be terrible if your lightweight knit fabric developed a hole when you were sewing the very last buttonhole on to your blouse?!

If you plan to avoid buttonholes by using snaps or by simply sewing on decorative but non-functional buttons (more on this momentarily), you can skip the interfacing to create a more fluid placket that drapes against your body in the same way that the rest of the blouse does.  You can also skip the interfacing but still add the buttonholes by using a temporary stabilizer that doesn’t remain within the garment once you are done sewing it.  Here is a tutorial that I created about this sort of stabilization!

 

Closures:

 

The choices are vast when it comes to adding closures to the Camas Blouse!  Here are a few options that I’ve tried out:

Buttons with Buttonholes: These are functional and they accentuate the fact that the comfy knit Camas is, indeed, a blouse rather than a t-shirt.  This might be a good option if you are hoping to get away with wearing your ‘secret pajamas’ to work despite the dress code!  Or maybe you plan to breast-feed in this blouse?

Sewing buttonholes

Snaps: Pearl snaps or halo snaps both look lovely (and a bit more casual) on the Camas.  Plus, they are super simple to install!  I would recommend avoiding these if you are using a mid-weight to thick knit for your blouse.  It can be difficult to work the snap prongs all the way through the knit placket if the knit is a bit spongey.

Casual Camas Blouse

Decorative Buttons: The Camas Blouse can easily be put on and taken off over the head due to the loose fit created by the gathers so there really isn’t a need for any sort of closure!  Just sew on decorative buttons through all layers of both plackets (this is what I did for the blouse photographed below).

Camas Blouse

No hardware at all: Make your Camas into an open front cardigan by skipping buttons or snaps entirely – I will be doing this with one of my sew-along Camas Blouses (and I will also be adding length to the sleeves to create a cozy sweater).


 

On Wednesday we will be discussing sizing and some fit adjustments.  In the meantime, please feel free to email with any fabric and notion questions you might have!  If you would like my advice on a particular fabric choice, send a link or photo to info@threadtheory.ca


Camas Sew-Along: Choose your size and fit February 11 2016

Today we are talking about sizing and fit.  The Camas Blouse is designed to be a swingy sort of blouse with a loose fit about the waist and hips (due to the gathers at the chest and back) and a figure hugging fit around the shoulders and arms.

CamasOnMorgan-14 blog

Here is the size chart for this pattern: Web Information

As you can see, we’ve included sizes 0 to 18.  We always include two sets of measurements with our patterns: The Body Measurements and the Garment Measurements.

Using the Body Measurement Chart

To select your size, first take your body measurements using a measurement tape and preferably someone to help you so that you get the most accurate measurements.  I find it is difficult to ensure the tape measure is horizontal around my bust, waist and hips without someone there to help!

If your measurements do not all fall into the same size category, you have two options:

  1. Select your size based on the most important measurement for the pattern. Since the Camas Blouse is meant to be loose around the Waist and Hips, I would consider the Bust measurement to be the most important to match – even this measurement has a bit of wiggle room though because the gathers just above the bust allow quite a bit of ease.  Here’s an example of how this option could work: I measure myself to find my bust is 31″ my waist is 26 1/2″ and my hips are 34″.  I would choose to sew size 2 because this is the size closest to my bust measurement.
  2. Grade between sizes to ensure a perfect fit.  This method is the most accurate way to approach choosing a size – especially when you are sewing a fitted garment.  You can see my tutorial on how to do this here!  Simply use a pencil to create a smooth line between two or three sizes.  For most garments, you would create this transition between the bust and waist and between the waist and hips but you have to keep the garment design and the original shape of the seamlines in mind.  Here is an example to explain what I mean by this: I measure myself to find I have the same measurements as listed in option 1.  I would choose to cut out a size 2 at the bust but then grade to a size 4 at the waist.  I wouldn’t grade back down to a smaller size at the hips though due to the shape of the blouse – it would look strange to have a curved side seam that bulges outwards!

Using the Garment Measurement Chart

Now that you’ve picked your size, you can use the garment measurement chart to check exactly how the design will fit you and then tweak the pattern to suit your body shape.  If you hate sewing mock ups this might be a valuable step for you to take!

I find it easiest to compare the measurements in this chart to a blouse from my closet.  If you don’t have a blouse with a fit that you like, you can compare these measurements to your body measurements but keep in mind that there is both positive and negative ease included in various areas of the pattern so, for instance, you should not expect the waist width to match your own waist width – it will be far wider due to the loose fit caused by gathers (positive ease).

Lay the shirt that you will be measuring out on a table or the floor as flat as possible.

A few measurements that you might want to check are:

Measuring the Camas Blouse (4 of 5)

Chest Width: If the chest measurement is smaller than your sample garment, we will be discussing how to adjust this below!

Measuring the Camas Blouse (5 of 5)

Centre Back Length to Hem: This is a nice one to check if you want to know how long the back of the blouse will be.  You can lengthen or shorten the pattern easily using the lengthen/shorten lines so that it will cover your bum to wear with leggings or sit at the most flattering point for your body.

Measuring the Camas Blouse (1 of 5)Neckline Drop: This measurement refers to how deep/revealing the neckline is on the Camas.  A number of people who have sewn this blouse have told me that the neckline was a little lower than they felt comfortable wearing.  I must admit, I like to wear pretty low necklines and have a small bust so I don’t have to worry much about displaying cleavage.  If cleavage is something you don’t want to show, you might want to make the neckline more modest.  We will talk about how to adjust the neckline below!

Measuring the Camas Blouse (3 of 5)

Sleeve Bicep Width: This is a very important measurement to examine if you are sewing the Camas Blouse using a woven fabric (not recommended for this pattern without adjusting the sleeve width!).  You will see that the sleeve is quite slim compared to most blouses made in woven fabrics.  We will be talking about sleeve adjustments in Friday’s sew-along post about the Camas Blouse in Woven Fabrics.

Now we’ve inspected the fit of this design, let’s move on to adjusting the pattern so the measurements suit your body!

Please note that it is most accurate to make pattern adjustments by removing the seam allowances on a pattern before manipulating it.  I recommend doing this for the adjustments I show you below.  That being said, everyone wants to be lazy sometimes so I have chosen the most simple option for all of the following adjustments so you can perform quick and dirty pattern adjustments with the seam allowances still attached if you need to!

Change the chest width to suit larger busts:

The Camas Blouse looks best if there is enough fabric in the chest area for the gathers to fall loosely over the bust.  If you are worried this will not be the case based on the body and garment measurements you took, it is very easy to simply create more room by creating more gathers!  You will only need to adjust one pattern piece – the front.

Adding-width-to-bust

Cut along the entire length of the Camas Blouse Front as illustrated by the dotted line in the diagram above.  Cut somewhere within the “Gather Here” markings on the pattern piece (between the neckline and the notch).

Place a large sheet of paper underneath your blouse front and spread open the blouse.  Add half the width you need to create a nice roomy chest width because this amount will be added to both the left and right blouse front!  Tape the pattern to the large piece of paper and cut out the new wider pattern piece.

Create the gathers as instructed so that the blouse front matches the width of the yoke – you will have more gathers than originally included in the blouse design so that the fabric can pleasingly fall over your bust.

Lengthen or shorten the blouse for short or tall figures (or to create a different style):

I’ve photographed a tutorial that shows you how to lengthen or shorten a pattern in the past for our Jedediah Pants Sew-Along.  The pattern pieces you will need to do this to are the front, back and placket.  If you would like to also lengthen the back hem swoop to create a tunic with bum coverage, you will likely want to lengthen the entire blouse body several inches and then shape a new hem like this:

Lengthening and shortening pattern

The key is to make sure that your new swoop meets up with the original seamline before the side seam unless you would like to adjust the blouse front hemline as well.

Raise the neckline to create a more modest design:

To raise the neckline you will need to adjust the front and placket pattern pieces.  Determine how much you would like to raise the neckline (for an example, let’s say 1/2″).

Assistance raising Camas neckline

Using a ruler, extend the blouse center front up 1/2″. draw a new curved corner and gradually meet with the old neckline.  Try to keep the general shape of the neckline and angle of the curved corner as similar.  Ensure that the new neckline is the same length as the old neckline by curving your measuring tape along the seamline.

Using a ruler, extend the straight length of the placket 1/2″ to match the blouse front.  Create a new curved corner and gradually meet the old neckline in the same manner as you did for the last pattern piece.

In order to make sure that the placket is the correct length and will fit onto the blouse, you will need to measure both the front yoke and the blouse front where the placket attaches.  If you still have seam allowances on your pattern piece, remember to subtract the seam allowances used to sew the yoke to the blouse front from your measurement!


 

Are there other fit adjustments you would like to make to this pattern?  Send me an email at info@threadtheory.ca and I will try my best to make a tutorial to help you.


Camas Sew-Along: Using a Woven Fabric February 11 2016

Here is the sew-along post that many of you have been waiting for!  Ever since we launched the Camas Blouse pattern we have received emails and comments from people who would love to make the Camas in a fabric with no stretch.  The pattern is designed for knit fabrics with some stretch but the only pattern piece that actually needs this stretch is the sleeve.  It is drafted to be quite slim in the bicep and at the elbow.  You will need more room if you would like to be comfortable while moving your arms!  Most knit garments do not include enough ease across the shoulder blades to work with woven fabrics.  This is not the case with the Camas Blouse because the yoke pieces were drafted to work in woven or knit fabrics.  So, if you would like to sew this pattern using a woven fabric, you will not need to change the pattern very much, you will just need to make some small adjustments to the sleeve!

Today I’ve recorded all of the ways that you can adjust the Camas sleeve along with their corresponding advantages and disadvantages.  I hope you will find an option or combination of options that suits you!  I’ll begin with the simplest solutions and end with some pattern manipulation.  I’ve accompanied almost every solution with photos of a Camas Blouse or similar garment sewn by a sewing blogger or by me so that you can see how each solution appears in reality!

Camas Blouse Woven Size Up

Sized up Camas Blouse blogged at Friends Stitched Together

Simply Size Up!

How to Do This: Take your body measurements and select your size from the body measurement chart that we talked about a couple of days ago.  Instead of cutting your pattern out using this size, simply cut the next size up!  You could grade between sizes if you would like to maintain a neckline and waist/hem that fits you but you will need to use the larger sized armhole and sleeve.

Advantages:  This is the easiest option and requires no pattern adjustments. Yay :)

Disadvantages: Using a size bigger than your measurements call for will give you more room in the sleeve and armscye but it will also make the rest of the blouse larger.  Even if you grade between sizes, you will be forced to sew a Camas with wider shoulders and a larger chest circumference unless you make pattern adjustments to correct this.  If you happen to be between measurements with thin arms and larger shoulders/bust, this solution will be perfect for you because it will lead to the correct fit in every area.

Christine-Camas-9

Cotton Spandex Camas Blouse blogged by me and modeled by my Mom

Pick a Woven with Spandex Content

How to Do This: Select a fabric with even the smallest percentage of spandex/lycra contest.  All you need is just a slight bit of ‘give’ or stretch in the fabric to allow you to have mobility at the elbow and feel unrestricted around the bicep despite the tight sleeve.

Advantages: There are an increasing number of fabric choices available with a small amount of spandex included – I have seen stretch cottons, stretch silks and stretch suitings at the fabric store lately that would all make lovely Camas Blouses.

Disadvantages: Fabrics with spandex content wear out faster if you do not wash them carefully.  A lot of fabrics with spandex content don’t quite have the drape that I am looking for or the prints that I would like to create my ideal woven Camas.

Camas Blouse Woven Seam Allowance

Camas Blouse sewn with 3/8″ seam allowances blogged at Randomly Happy

Sew With Smaller Seam Allowances

Camas tutorial adjust seam allowance

How to Do This: Cut out the size that suits you based on the body measurement chart.  Determine which areas you will need more mobility and room and sew these areas using a 1/4″ to 3/8″ seam allowance rather than the 5/8″ seam allowance that the pattern calls for.  Since the Camas Blouse yokes have been drafted to work well with woven fabrics, the only areas you will need to use a smaller seam allowance are the sleeve and side seam.  When sewing step 3 in the “Sleeves and Side Seam” section of the instruction booklet, start at the hem of the sleeve and sew with a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Keep sewing with this seam allowance until you have sewn onto the blouse body and then taper back to a 5/8″ seam allowance to complete the rest of the seam.

Advantages: This is also an easy option with the added benefit that you can use the regular seam allowance (5/8″) where you do not need extra width.

Disadvantages:  This solution works well for adding a touch more room at the elbow and bicep but it may not be enough room for you if you like a very easy fitting sleeve.  Sewing with a smaller seam allowance will also drop the underarm lower which can reduce the ability to raise the arm without the body of the garment also raising (we will be talking about this shortly, keep reading!).  This may or may not be a nuisance to you:  If you wear your Camas tucked in it will be more likely to untuck itself when you raise your arm.

Camas Blouse Woven Sleeve Width

Camas Blouse with width added to sleeves (using method 2 I believe) blogged at Stitch 56

Increase the Sleeve Width (2 ways)

How to Do This: There are two approaches to adding width to the sleeve.

Camas Blouse adding width at bicep

1. Reduce the sleeve cap height: Cut the sleeve pattern piece in half vertically but leave a paper hing at the top and bottom.  Cut the sleeve horizontally leaving a paper hinge at each side.  Now spread the t-shape open to add as much width as you will like.  You will notice that the sleeve seam does not change in length but it’s shape changes.  You will also notice that width is added very high up at the shoulder – this is a great place to add it if you have rounded, full delts like I do!

Camas Blouse adding width at elbow

2. Add width along the Seam: This is an easier adjustment but it is definitely a design change because it leads the sleeve to become more rectangular than tapered.  Place your sleeve pattern piece on a large sheet of paper and draw a straight line from the underarm down to the hem to create a wider hem.  This adjustment does not add width above the bicep but many people will not need additional width in this area, they will mostly just need extra width at the elbow.

Advantages: Both of these pattern adjustments are fairly simple and do not require you to adjust the armscye.

Disadvantages: Both adjustments makes the sleeve fit in a looser manner.  Since the proportions of the Camas are quite fitted in the sleeve and shoulder and quite loose in the body, changing the fitted sleeve to a looser one will change the look of the garment considerably.

Camas Woven Sleeve Band

Linen dress which I designed at fashion school.  If you look closely you can see a light cream band of knit fabric along the sleeve seam (left hand side).

Add a Knit Band to the Sleeve

Camas Blouse adding knit band to sleeve

How to Do This: Remove the seam allowances from the main seam of your sleeve pattern piece.  Cut off 1/2″ from either side of the sleeve, bicep to hem.  Create a rectangle pattern piece that is the length of the sleeve seam.  It should measure 1″ wide.  Add seam allowances back on to the sleeve and on to the knit band (long edges).  You will need to sew the Camas Blouse in a different order now that you have a two piece sleeve.  Sew the blouse side seam.  Next, sew the sleeve and sleeve band together to form a tube.  Ease the sleeve into the armhole.

Advantages: This option will create the most comfortable feeling sleeve without changing the overall silhouette of the garment very much – you lose a little bit of sleeve shaping due to the rectangular knit piece but it is not substantial..

Disadvantages: It is very difficult to find matching knit and woven fabrics unless you dye them yourself.  Even if you can find a perfect match, the seamlines themselves might not look as flattering as you would like (unless you view it as design feature!).

 

Raise the Armhole

Camas Blouse raising the armhole

How to Do This: The Camas armhole isn’t especially low but raising the armhole slightly can still help to  increase mobility and comfort when sewing the Camas in a woven fabric.  While it might seem counter intuitive to create a tighter armhole in order to increase mobility, it really does help!  Low armholes, while comfortable and casual feeling (think your favorite cozy loose sweater or batwing tops) actually reduce mobility when sewn in a woven fabric.  The whole body of the garment must ride up when the arm is lifted.  If you’d like proof or a visual explanation about the differences between high and low armholes, Threads Magazine has come out with a great article by Kenneth D. Kingrecently (Feb/March 2016 issue) and also an excellent video featuring Andrea Schewe that both visually explain how this works.  I particularly recommend the video as it really made things clear for me and explains how to make this adjustment step by step.

As I said before, the Camas doesn’t have especially low armholes, so our adjustment to increase mobility doesn’t need to be very big.  After watching the video, here are the measurements I think would work nicely to add a bit of extra mobility when sewing the Camas in wovens are as follows:

Raise the armhole by 3/8″ and raise the sleeve by 3/4″.  Of course, you can experiment by raising it less or more based on how the Camas Blouse fits your body.  I am sewing a woven version of the Camas for the sew-along using this adjustment along with a smaller seam allowance at the elbow so I will report on how this fits me at the end of the sew along!

Advantages: This option emphasizes the slim look of the Camas sleeve while increasing your ability to lift your arm without shifting the rest of the blouse – win, win!

Disadvantages: This adjustment doesn’t give you any more room in the elbow, it will only give you the ability to lift and move your arm comfortably.  You will likely want to combine this adjustment with another one such as sewing with smaller seam allowances near the elbow to create the most comfortable sleeve.


Camas Sew-Along: Camas Blouse Hacks February 11 2016

Welcome back to the Camas Sew-Along.  I hope you had a great weekend!  Today we have our last pattern manipulation post before launching into actually sewing our blouses.  I will do a quick post tomorrow about fitting your shoulders but since this wasn’t part of the sew-along schedule and is due to a request in the comments, today’s post still counts as the last one before we get to the good stuff (sewing)!

Today we are talking about pattern hacks.  Here are a few easy ones that I have cooked up – many of them based on Camas hacks the sewing community has blogged about or added to Instagram!

The Camas Cardigan

 

Doesn’t this Cardigan by Katie of Handmade Threads look like something you would want to wear every Spring day?  The Camas Cardigan is the easiest hack of all – simply sew your blouse as directed in the instruction booklet without making any changes to the pattern pieces…and then skip the last step – closures!  Don’t add closures to the Camas and you will have an open front cardigan.  Or, sew all of the steps for a cardigan that buttons up.  Easier yet, grab the Camas Blouse that already sits in your closet and magically transform it into a cardigan by wearing it over another top! :P

I will be sewing a Camas Cardigan during the sew-along that features our soft and snuggly black interlock and a contrast gathered lace back.  I’m sewing this version using the next pattern hack too:

Cozy Camas with Full Length Sleeves

If you would prefer to sew a Camas featuring a full length sleeve rather than the 3/4 length included with the pattern, here is how you would go about adjusting the sleeve pattern piece:

Camas Blouse Full Length Sleeves

First, ignore the “Lengthen or Shorten Here” line unless you are just making a small fit adjustment.  For a style adjustment, you do not want to use this line because it will preserve the width of the hem – a hem suited to the widest part of your forearm will not be suited to your thin wrist!

To extend the sleeve to full length, measure the length of your arm, or even easier, the length of a shirt sleeve that fits you well.  Draw a new hemline that is parallel to the original hem.  Make sure to include the 5/8″ hem allowance!

Determine how wide you need your hem to be by measuring the circumference of your wrist (or the well fitting shirt).  Make sure, once again, to add two 5/8″ seam allowances to this measurement!

Draw new seamlines up from the hem until they meet the existing sleeve seams at a pleasing angle.  You can now sew a Camas with full length sleeves!

A Swooped Hem Camas

untitled-103

I made this swooped hem Camas Blouse using a light and flowing silk from Britex Fabrics.  I wanted to emphasize the weightlessness of the fabric so I exaggerated the curve at the back of the hem considerably.  For this blouse I adjusted both the front and back of the panels to create a high-low hem (the front curves upwards so that the shortest point is the placket).  This was a fun experiment but in retrospect I wouldn’t have adjusted the front of the blouse since I think the original downward curve at the front is more flattering.  In the tutorial below I show you how to adjust only the back panel to achieve the swooped back and still maintain the curve over the hips and across the front of the blouse.

The key if you only adjust the back panel is to shape the hem curve so that it meets the side seam at the same angle as the original hem curve.  Keep in mind that an exaggerated hem curve may make hemming a bit tricky – you can use a rolled hem for a curve like this!

Swooped Hem Camas Blouse

 

The Camas Dress/Tunic

Inspiration for Camas Dress

Camas Dress inspiration: The T.A.- Okay Dress from ModCloth

I have two different approaches for lengthening the Camas to become a dress – one is the approach I am using for a Camas Dress that I am currently halfway through making.  I decided to make a slim dress with straight side seams and I envision wearing it with a self fabric belt, cuffed sleeves and black leggings – I can’t wait to show it to you!  Here is the shape I created when lengthening the pattern:

Lengthening the Camas Blouse

To do this, cut along the lengthen and shorten lines.  Spread the Front, Back and Placket out equally.  Draw new seamlines – be sure to keep the original angle at the base of the armhole for at least the 5/8″ seam allowance so that you are not interfering with the armhole shape.

The second approach you can take to lengthening the Camas into a tunic or dress is to keep the shaped side seam for a ‘fit and flare’ look.  Melissa of Happy Stitch has created a tutorial to do just this and posted it over at the Imagine Gnats blog!

Camas Blouse Tunic Length

Some of your inspiring pattern hacks:

 

Your Camas Blouse Hacks

  1. A woven Camas with sleeves and yokes cut from the same fabric blogged at Neues vom Sonnenfels.
  2. Piping added to the yoke seams!  Blogged at Gros Bécots.
  3. A sleeveless Camas with no placket and a cross-over front blogged at Thread Snips.

 

A very creative Camas Blouse alteration featuring no centre front opening and a cute neckline keyhole by Sylvie.

And some freshly interpreted Camas Blouses with no hacking needed!

Camas Blouse Freshly Interpreted

  1. The Camas as business attire by Pattern Revolution
  2. A maternity (and breastfeeding) Camas by Hachis Parementure
  3. The Camas meets sequins at Jolies Bobines
  4. The Camas in gold and black at By Clo’th
  5. A pleated and color-blocked Camas by Effortless Attention

Camas Sew-Along: Cut into your fabric and sew the yokes February 11 2016

Today we finally start to sew!

I have decided to photograph the woven Camas that I am sewing using a dotted cotton chambray as my main ‘sew-along sample’.  I know most people will be following along while sewing a knit Camas (since this is the type of fabric that the pattern calls for) but I thought that the very clear right and wrong side on this fabric would help to make the sew-along photos easy to understand so I couldn’t resist photographing a woven Camas!  Even though I am sewing with a woven fabric, I will still include information on stitch types that you should or could use when sewing with a knit.  If I mention straight stitching during a sewing step, for example, this is a stitch type suitable for both knits and woven fabrics at that particular point in the sewing process.


 

Okay, let’s delve right in – cut out your fabric pieces using the fabric layout provided in the instruction booklet.  I go into great detail about cutting out knit fabrics in our Comox Trunks sew-along so I haven’t repeated myself here.  Be sure to check out this post if you want some tips!

It is important to note that the Camas Blouse pattern includes 5/8″ seam allowances on all seams – while this large allowance is fairly standard for home sewers because it gives you wiggle room to fit the garment as you sew, it means you will need to do a lot of seam trimming (often called grading).  We will go over how to do this and where to do this at every single sewing step for the most professional looking results!  It is a very important aspect of sewing the Camas Blouse.

Sewing the Front Yokes

Camas Blouse Sew Along (1 of 29)

Create gathers on your blouse Front by sewing two lines of stitching using your longest stitch length.  The first line of stitching is 1/4″ from the fabric edge and the second line of stitching is 1/2″ from the fabric edge.  Stitch from the notch towards the neckline.  Don’t backstitch when sewing a gathering stitch since you will need to pull your loose threads taught in a moment!  You can stop your stitching either 5/8″ from the neckline or continue right to the neckline fabric edge.

Pull the gathers by grabbing hold of the bobbin threads from both stitching lines.  Even out the gathers so that they are nicely spread between the notch and the neckline.  You should leave the 5/8″ seam allowance along the neckline free from gathers.
Camas Sew Along Yoke Seamline

Pin the front yokes to your blouse fronts.  First, lay down one front yoke so that the right side is facing you, place the blouse front on top of it so that the blouse front right side is also facing you.  Finish the sandwich by placing the second yoke on top of the blouse front so that the wrong side is facing you (as pictured above).  Pin your layers in place so that the raw edges are even.  Note that each yoke edge should be even with the neckline and armhole at the seamline – this is 5/8″ in from the fabric edge.  You can see in the photo above that the yoke extends past the neckline and armhole within the seam allowance.  The yoke notches match the blouse front notch.Camas Blouse in a woven (2 of 29)

Above is another view of the sandwich you have made – on the left is your front yoke, in the middle is your blouse front, on the right is your front yoke facing.  Sew along the 5/8″ seamline using a regular straight stitch and backstitch at both ends.
Camas Blouse Sew Along (4 of 29)

Here is the first seam we will need to trim/grade!  To grade the seam, trim one seam allowance very short (1/4″), trim the middle seam allowance to 1/2″ and leave the third seam allowance at 5/8
“.  Trimming in this manner makes a nice transition from the thickness of three seam allowances to no seam allowance at all so that, when you press the yokes, there will not be a ridge where the seam allowances end.Camas Blouse Sew Along (5 of 29)

Press both the yoke and yoke facing upwards.  Gently press your gathers if you would like (this may or may not be necessary depending on the drape of your fabric).  My fabric doesn’t drape very much so I decided to press the gathers down and steam them a little bit so that they sit flat.Camas Blouse Sew Along (6 of 29)

Now let’s repeat this process for the back yoke!  Sew two lines of long basting stitches again and form your gathers.Camas Blouse Sew Along (7 of 29)

You will notice that the back features two notches between which the gathers are quite full – I really like that romantic full look but, if you don’t, you could perform an easy modification as follows:  Simply sew your gathering stitches across the entire blouse back.  Distribute the gathers as you prefer – you could do small gathers across the entire length of the back or you could do a wider stretch of medium sized gathers across the middle of the blouse.Camas Blouse Sew Along (8 of 29)

I’ve photographed the back yoke “sandwich” differently in case you didn’t quite understand the first set of photos or the instructions in the booklet.  First, lay one yoke on your work surface so that it is upside down and so that the right side is facing you.Camas Blouse Sew Along (9 of 29)

Now place your blouse back on top of the yoke so that raw edges are aligned and the blouse back right side is facing you.Camas Blouse Sew Along (10 of 29)

Add your last yoke to the top of this sandwich so that the wrong side is facing you.  Carefully in all layers so that your gathers sit flat (it is easy to accidentally push them to the side so that they don’t sit evenly!).Camas Blouse Sew Along (11 of 29)

Once you’ve sewn your yoke, you can grade the seam allowances in the same manner that you did for the blouse front.  This is especially important for the back yoke because the bulk of the full gathers is considerable.Camas Blouse Sew Along (12 of 29)

Press the yokes upwards.  Now it’s time to finish the yokes by sewing the shoulder seams!  In the Camas instruction booklet I illustrated a way to sew this seam that involves a bit of extra sewing but is easier to understand when illustrated.  Some of you have emailed me and mentioned that the “burrito method” would work well for this pattern – I agree!  You can find great tutorials for sewing the burrito method here:

  1. Grainline Studio’s Burrito Method Tutorial for the Archer Shirt
  2. Male Pattern Boldness Burrito Method Tutorial for the Negroni Shirt

 

We will continue with this sew-along by using the method from the instruction booklet.  I prefer this method when sewing with knits because it is less likely to stretch out knits that do not have very good recovery because you do not need to roll up the body of the blouse and stretch the yokes over this roll as you would with the burrito method.  Also, I think a knit shoulder seam benefits from the stability added from the extra stitching that we will be doing below:Camas Blouse Sew Along (13 of 29)

Begin by pushing your front and back yoke facings (the inner yokes) out of the way so that you can work with only the front and back yokes.  Lines up the shoulder seams – you will only be working with two layers of fabric.  Sew these shoulder seams using a straight stitch and a 5/8″ seam allowance.Camas Blouse Sew Along (14 of 29)

Press the seam allowance open.  Now we will sew the same seam on the yoke facings!
Camas Blouse Sew Along (15 of 29)

Photographed above is the same view that I illustrated in the instruction booklet.  Pin the yoke facings together at the shoulder seam so that the right sides are together – it is easiest to do this if you position the blouse and yokes as they will look when they are finished – that way you eliminate the risk of accidentally twisting the yokes.  It is easy to access the whole shoulder seam by pulling it towards the neckline of the blouse – as you can see below:Camas Blouse Sew Along (16 of 29)

Sew this seam at 5/8″ and press it open.  You can trim this seam allowance to 3/8″ to grade it in comparison to the main shoulder seam.Camas Blouse Sew Along (17 of 29)

Finish the shoulder seams by opening up the blouse so that the yoke and yoke facing shoulder seams sit one on top of the other.  Stitch in the ditch to join the two layers together.  This step isn’t 100% necessary but it is a nice way to add structure and stabilize the shoulder seam.  It also prevents the layers from shifting around.
Camas Blouse Sew Along (18 of 29)

That’s it for today!  Your Camas Blouse is already taking shape!  On Friday we will be adding the sleeves and sewing the side seams.  We will even hem the main blouse so that it is ready for the placket!


Camas Sew-Along: Sew the sleeves, side seams and hem February 11 2016

By the end of today’s sewing session your Camas will really look like a blouse – you will even be able to try it on!  Here is where we left off on Wednesday:  We had sewn the gathers, yokes and shoulder seams.  I forgot to mention that it is a good idea to stay stitch along the neckline and armholes to keep the two yoke layers in place.  Do this by stitching within the 5/8″ seam allowance using a normal stitch length.  Staystitching is a great way to keep fabric from stretching out when you are working on the rest of the garment.  Necklines and armholes are prone to stretching out because their curved edges include some fabric that is cut on the bias.  You can see the staystitching that I did here:Camas Blouse Sew Along (18 of 29)

Inserting Sleeves

Now it’s time to insert our sleeves!  Pin the a sleeve to each armhole with right sides together.  The double notch on the sleeve means that this should be aligned with the back of the garment.  Match the notch at the top of the sleeve with the shoulder seam.  Match the double notch on the sleeve with the double notch on the back of the blouse (right at the yoke seamline).  Match the single notch on the sleeve with the single notch on the front of the blouse – note that this notch is not the same as the yoke seamline, it is placed closer to the side seam.Camas Blouse Sew Along (19 of 29)

Sew the sleeve using a 5/8″ seam allowance.   Be careful to keep the raw edges of your fabric aligned.  Pivot the garment with your needle down and your presser foot up whenever you need to adjust to match the curve of this seam.  Sewing a steeply curved sleeve like this can sometimes feel like magic – while you are sewing it feels like there is no way that the two curves are going to fit together but, if you pin at the notches and take the sewing process slowly, they will fit absolutely perfectly. :)

Camas Blouse Sew Along (21 of 29)

Finish the seam allowance using a serger or a zig zag stitch.  Pardon my mis-matched forest green serger thread!  I have been sewing several Camas Blouses at once (including a forest green one) and was too lazy to change the serger thread…oh dear!Camas Blouse Sew Along (20 of 29)

Press the seam allowance towards the sleeve.  In the photo above, I am using a pressing ham.  You can press an armscye without one but a ham really makes it easier!

Side Seams

Now it is time to sew the side seams.  In the instruction booklet I mention two possibilities for sewing these – I have photographed the main option (simply sew and finish the seam allowance wtih a serger or zig zag stitch) but keep in mind that you can try out a french seam if you like!  A french seam would be particularly nice if you are creating an open front Camas cardigan.  That way the raw edges are nicely contained.  Another option that I don’t mention in the instruction booklet is to sew this seam using a flat fell finish.  I mention this option due to an error I just made on the Camas Blouse yesterday!  I had intended to sew a french seam on the Camas Cardigan I am making but accidentally sewed the sleeve and side seam with right sides together out of habit.  Rather than unpicking the stitches from the very delicate poly chiffon I am using I decided to create a flat fell seam instead.  It worked well!  This is what it looks like:

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-29

Anyways, if you would just like to sew a regular side seam as I am sure most of you would, let’s continue!  Pin the sleeve and sides seams with right sides together.  Make sure that the intersecting seams meet up nicely at the armhole by pinning carefully.Camas Blouse Sew Along (22 of 29)

Sew this seam using a 5/8″ seam allowance.  If you are sewing a woven Camas, now is a great time to play around with a smaller seam allowance to give you a looser fitting sleeve.  In the photo below you can see that I used a much smaller seam allowance on the sleeve than I did on the blouse side seam:Camas Blouse Sew Along (23 of 29)

Now finish the seam allowance using a serger or a zig zag stitch.  Press the seam allowance towards the back of the garment.

Camas Blouse Sew Along (29 of 29)

Sew the Hems

The blouse hems are sewn before adding the placket, so, although it might feel funny to sew a hem when you are only half way through the construction of the blouse, now is the time!  Let’s start with the sleeve hems.  You might like to try the garment on at this point to confirm that the sleeves are a flattering length for you.
Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-4

Press up the 5/8″ hem allowance.Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-5

Press 1/4″ under to hide the raw edge and stitch.  Repeat for the second sleeve.

Begin the blouse hem in the same manner.  Within the instruction booklet I include some tips to help you to create a nice curved hem.  I’ll show you the basic way to create this hem first and then, afterwards, I have photographed another hemming idea to help you out if you’ve exaggerated the curve of the hem as a pattern hack.  Here is the basic hem:Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-1

Press the 5/8″ hem allowance up.  Try to ensure that the hem allowance remains even at the side seams where it curves upwards.
Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-2

Press under 1/4″ to hide the raw edge.  Stitch the hem and press thoroughly to make it as smooth and flat as possible:Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-3

Alternative Hem for Exaggerated Curves

If you have changed the shape of the hem to make a more exaggerated curve (as we discussed in the sew-along post about pattern hacks) you will probably need to create a narrow rolled hem.  This is a nice finish if you are sewing the Camas in tissue weight knits or other floaty sorts of fabric (such as the poly chiffon that I am using below).  The rolled hem will not weigh down the fabric in the same way as a wider hem would.

Megan Nielsen has an excellent tutorial on her blog that contains three ways to sew a rolled hem.  My favorite option is #2 but I sometimes skip a step or two depending on how delicate or fiddly my fabric is.  I recommend following all of her steps though (despite my bad example) because your hem will be much more precise than the one that I have sewn!

For this rolled hem I sewed a scant 1/4″ away from the raw edge.  The stitching helps to keep the fabric a bit taught as you press under the raw edge to create a small roll.
Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-29

Here is the result!  What looks like a tuck in the center of the photo is actually just a trick of the camera and shadows.  I noticed it on the camera screen when I took the photo but examined the blouse and repressed to make sure there was no tuck…there isn’t, but it keeps showing up in the photos!  Just so you know. :PCamas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-30

Have a wonderful weekend!  On Monday we will continue full steam ahead – we will be sewing the blouse placket.  Many of you have found this to be the trickiest part of the blouse – I have all sorts of tricks and suggestions to give you so stay tuned!


Camas Sew-Along: Delay February 11 2016

This is just a quick note to let you know that I will be posting the next sew-along update tomorrow rather than today!  When I created the sew-along schedule I forgot that today (Monday, Feb. 8th) is Family Day in British Columbia, Canada!  It is a relatively new holiday so it catches me off guard every time.  My family invited me to go skiing for the day – an offer I could not refuse!  I decided to put work aside since family always comes first :).  Thanks for your patience!  The next sew along post will be launched on the blog by the end of the day tomorrow.

Camas Sew-Along: Sew the Blouse Placket February 11 2016

Thanks for waiting an extra day for this post!  I really had a great time skiing in the sunshine.

Today we’re sewing the Camas placket.  This is unquestionably the trickiest part of the Camas Blouse sewing process, but don’t worry, it isn’t that hard!  It is just a little bit finicky and it is a slow process in comparison to the very fast sewing steps that preceded it.

Preparing your Placket

The instruction booklet tells you to interface all placket pieces with interfacing suitable for knits (it usually stretches in one direction slightly and is quite light weight).  I have suggested you interface all pieces because this will make these narrow, fiddly pieces less likely to curl up or stretch out of shape.  Interfacing them will cause the knit fabric to behave more like woven fabric.

Depending on your fabric choice, you can listen to my instructions or you are welcome to disregard them!  Here are a few scenarios for you so that you can see what I mean:

  1. You are sewing with a thin jersey fabric whose raw edges roll up considerably.  You hope to sew functioning buttonholes on your placket.  In this case it would be best to interface all placket pieces if you are a tad uncomfortable working with knit fabrics.  If you are an old hand at working with knits you could interface one set of placket pieces and leave the other set free of interfacing.  This will reduce bulk and rigidity slightly so that your placket flows with the rest of the garment more readily.
  2. You are sewing with a thick interlock fabric whose edges stay nice and flat.  You would like to close your blouse front permanently by sewing decorative buttons on through all layers.  In this case you could easily sew the placket with only one set of interfaced pieces or you could even sew it with no interfacing.  At least one layer of interfacing will help to prevent the narrow placket pieces from stretching and rippling as you sew them to the blouse front.
  3. You are sewing a with a very stable woven fabric such as cotton (as I am for this sew along).  Go ahead and skip the interfacing if you don’t have any on hand!  Keep in mind though that your buttonholes might be a little bit misshapen or your machine might have troubles creating them – you know the button hole capabilities of your machine so use your judgement here.  If you machine often gives you troubles when sewing buttonholes, at least one layer of light interfacing will likely help you out!

I chose to skip interfacing altogether for this Camas Blouse just to test it out.  The Camas I am sewing has been lengthened to become a dress so I wanted to ensure my placket is not very rigid and bulky since it is so long and prominent at the front of the dress.

Assembling your Placket

I am going to show you two ways to assemble to placket – the first is how I illustrated in the instruction booklet.  The second approach requires fewer steps but results in a slightly less tidy garment (on the inside).  You can choose which method you prefer or even try out both!

 

Method 1:

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-6

Place the neckline placket on your work surface with right side facing you.  Lay out your placket pieces on top of it with wrong sides facing you.  Line up the shoulder seams and pin.

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-7

Stitch the shoulder seams using a 5/8″ seam allowance and a straight stitch.  Press these seams open.  Once you have stitched both sets of plackets you can trim one of the seam allowances to 3/8″ if you like to reduce bulk (so that both seam allowance raw edges don’t end at the same point and create a ridge).

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-8

Now it is time to sew the placket to your blouse.  This can be a little counter intuitive due to the curved shaping of the neckline – pin carefully and even baste the entire seam if you are unsure you have the placket positioned correctly!  I’ve attempted to explain the process in a very different way than I did in the instruction booklet so that those who are confused by the instruction booklet can clarify things by reading this post and vice versa.

Place the placket on your work surface with right sides up so that the neckline placket looks like a frown (see the photo above).  You will be sewing the blouse neckline to the longest side of this curve (the top of the frown).

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-9

Drape the placket over the blouse and match the shoulder seams.  You can see in the bottom right of the photo above that the placket curves away from centre front (this is the part that some people find counter intuitive).  The blouse curves in a convex fashion and the placket curves in a concave fashion.

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-12

Pin the placket to the blouse with right sides together.  Make sure to match the shoulder seams and center back.  The placket will extend 5/8″ beyond the blouse hem.

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-13

Sew the placket to the blouse with a 5/8″ seam allowance.  It is a great idea to break the seam into two sections by starting at the centre back and sewing in either direction.  This way you are less likely to stretch the placket out of shape.

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-14

Now that your placket is attached, here comes the most important step to create a smooth, professional looking placket without too much bulk!  Trim, trim, trim!

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-15

Grade the seam allowances by trimming one to 1/4″ and the other to 3/8″.  Along the curved sections (the back of the neckline and the curve at center front), clip the seam allowances by making small triangles.  This will help the seam to curve smoothly.  If you are using a very delicate knit fabric or a loosely knit fabric, you might not want to trim or clip so thoroughly since this could cause runs in the fabric.  If you are using a dense knit or a woven fabric, trim and clip to your hearts content!

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-18

Press the seam allowances towards the placket.

Now you can assemble the second set of placket pieces in the same manner as the first.  Finish the long outer edge (the same edge that you sewed to the blouse when you assembled the first placket) by using a serger, rayon seam tape or a zig zag stitch.  I’ve used a serger in the photo below and I’ve marvelled at a Camas Blouse the my mother in law created using rayon seam tape for this step.  She matched the seam tape with the floral print – it looked so pretty!

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-19

Pin the inner placket to the outer placket.  Match shoulder seams and the center back.  This placket will also extend 5/8″ below the blouse hem.

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-20

Starting at center back, stitch in either direction using a straight stitch and a 5/8″ seam allowance.  When you get to the hem, make a right angle turn and stitch across the entire width of the placket.

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-21

For best results, trim and clip this set of seam allowances in the same way that you trimmed the first.  If you like, this is a great seam to understitch to ensure that the inner placket presses towards the inside of the blouse easily.

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-22

Your placket is beginning to look very finished!  We just need to stitch it in place now.

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-24

Pin the under placket in place to prevent any shifting before you sew your topstitching.

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-25

From the right side of the blouse, topstitch along the placket edge 1/8″ from the seam.

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-26

I like to topstitch with a slightly longer stitch than usual – I find it looks a bit more polished.  Doesn’t that look nice?

Camas Sew Along Sleeves and Hem-28

 

Now, if you prefer, you are welcome to use Method 2 to sew your placket:

Sew the shoulder seams of the neckline placket and placket pieces as instructed in Method 1.

Camas Sew Along Placket-1

Press the seam allowances open and trim one set of seam allowances to 3/8″ if desired to reduce bulk.

Camas Sew Along Placket-2

Rather than sewing one placket to the blouse as we did in Method 1, we will assemble the two placket sets before attaching them to the blouse.

Camas Sew Along Placket-6

Place one placket on top of the other with right sides together.  Pin the plackets together along the inner curve.  Make sure the shoulder seams are aligned.

Camas Sew Along Placket-10

Start at center back and stitch along the inner curve using a 5/8″ seam allowance.  Stitch from centre back towards the hem in both directions.  Breaking the seam into two sections like this will help to prevent things from becoming misshapen.  5/8″ from the raw edge of the hem, turn a right angle and stitch across the width of the placket.

Camas Sew Along Placket-15

Here is how your placket will appear once you have stitched this seam:

Camas Sew Along Placket-11

At this point, you can understitch if you like to ensure that the placket will fold and press crisply.

Camas Sew Along Placket-14

To understitch, press the seam allowances towards the inner placket (this could be either of the plackets, you choose!) with your hands.  Stitch through the inner placket and both seam allowances 1/8″ from the seam.  You can see the understitching in the photo above.

Camas Sew Along Placket-20

Press the placket so wrong sides are together and raw edges are aligned.  Turn out the placket corner at the hem.

Camas Sew Along Placket-22

Now it is time to attach the placket to the blouse.  Baste together the two raw placket edges if you like so they don’t shift around while you sew.  Pin the placket to the blouse carefully so that right sides are facing (the placket with visible understitching is the wrong side).

The rest of the process process will differ slightly depending on the machines you are using.

If you have a serger:

Camas Sew Along Placket-24

Beginning at one hem, carefully start serging so that the placket and blouse hem are even.  serge all the way around to the other hem.  Make sure that the shoulder seams are aligned.

If you are using a straight and zig zag stitch:

Using a straight stitch, start at center back and stitch towards either hem.  Finish the seam allowance using rayon seam tape or a zig zag stitch.

Finishing the placket

Camas Sew Along Placket-25

Press the finished seam allowance towards the blouse.  Topstitch the seam allowance in place 1/8″ from the placket seam.

Camas Sew Along Placket-29


 

I hope your plackets turn out well!  Take it slow and enjoy the process calmly :D.

Tomorrow we will sew our closures and I will show you my finished blouses!  On Friday I would love to showcase some of the blouses you have sewn – please email photos to me at info@threadtheory.ca if you would like to be featured.  Otherwise, blog and Instagram away and I will find your Camas projects on the web.  Exciting!


Camas Sew-Along: Closures and Styling February 11 2016

We’re on the home stretch!  Today we are sewing on our closures and I will show you my new Camas Dress and Cardigan in action!  On Friday I will show you a parade of Camas Blouses that have been popping up all over the internet.  I hope yours will be included in the parade – to be sure that it will, email me photos at info@threadtheory.ca.

Adding Closures

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-9

There are many ways to finish off the Camas Placket – some of which are detailed in the instruction book and some of which I will mention today.  Here are the ways I’ve come up with.  Maybe you have thought of others?

  1. Add buttonholes to the right placket (if you were wearing the blouse) and sew corresponding buttons to the left placket.
  2. Add snaps – I especially like pearl snaps!
  3. Sew the buttons through both plackets to create false buttons.  You could optionally topstitch the placket closed before doing this to avoid any chance of gaping or peek-a-boos.
  4. Topstitch the placket closed and avoid any closures.  This would be a very clean, minimalist look.
  5. Leave the placket open to create a cardigan.
  6. Add a tie belt made from self or contrast fabric to accompany buttons as a blouse or dress or use only the belt (no other closures) to create a robe style cardigan.

For the two garments that I sewed throughout the sew-along, I chose to leave one without closures and added false buttons and a tie belt to the other.  Here is how I added false buttons without stitching the placket closed:

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-1

I topstitched the inner placket in place before addressing the issue of closures (as you can see in the last sew-along post).  This differs slightly from the instruction booklet where I instruct you to stitch the two plackets together while topstitching.

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-2

Place the right placket (if you were wearing the blouse) over the left placket and pin together.  Make sure the hem is even.

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-4

Mark your button placement on the right placket.  If you are sewing the pattern without lengthening it you can use the button placement markings from the pattern piece.  If you have lengthened the blouse as I have here, you will need to determine the button placement yourself.  You can follow the spacing provided on the pattern (6.35 cm/ 2.5″) or choose your own.  It might be a good idea to try on the blouse so you can see where the top button should be placed.

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-10

Pierce your needle through both plackets when stitching each button in place.  Follow mytutorial on sewing on a button if you are often frustrated by hand sewn buttons popping off!

And you’re done! WOOT!!! Wear that gorgeous Camas for your Valentine’s festivities…or…you might find yourself grabbing it from your closet just about every day because it is so comfortable :).

Here are my finished Camas garments:

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-17

Meet the Camas shirt dress!  I sewed this using a lovely dotted cotton chambray fromStylemaker Fabrics.

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-1

I lengthened the Camas as I instructed in our post on Camas mods.  I kept the side seam very straight to get the slim silhouette I was imagining.

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-19

I also lengthened the sleeves slightly so I could roll them up to create cuffs:

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-32

The buttons I used are tiny little 3/8″ shirt buttons made from Tagua Nut.  You will be finding those in our shop when we launch an upcoming menswear pattern – the button up shirt!  I really like the creamy color for casual shirts like this one.  I find that these thin buttons with their subtle engraving look more subtle and professional than the thick shirt buttons that I often find in my local fabric shop.

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-42

When I lengthened the blouse pattern I kept the original hem curve.  I really like how this shaping looks on a shirt dress!

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-26

I created a belt out of two strips of self fabric.  I didn’t bother with belt loops – I had originally intended to add thread chain belt loops but when I tied the belt around my waist I felt those were really unnecessary.  The fabric does not shift or slip so there was no reason to require thread loops to keep the belt in place.

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-31

Since this shirt dress is sewn using a woven fabric with pretty much no drape (I know, this is NOT what I recommended in the fabric selection post!) I find the neckline rides up and gapes a little.  I tried moving around by calling our pup, Luki, to test how the dress provided coverage despite the fact that it doesn’t want to sit flat against my neckline.  I think it provides tolerable coverage:

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-37

It’s a bit annoying that I have to pull the dress back down over my chest after I move my arms up though.  I think this problem would not occur if the fabric had more drape and wanted to match the contours of my body.

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-36

When planning to sew this version of the Camas in a woven, I raised the underarm seam and used a smaller seam allowance at the elbow to accomodate for the fabric having no stretch.  I detailed how to do this in our post on sewing with woven fabrics.  I didn’t make any other fit adjustments despite the fact that I have a very broad back and straight shoulders.  Looking at the photo below I can see I probably needed to add 1/2″ of width across the back.  This is a pretty standard adjustment for me.  I haven’t done this for past Camas Blouses that I have sewn using knits because I did not notice a problem with the fit across the back.  Even with this woven version, the problem is exceptionally minimal – I have full arm movement and only notice a small amount of tightness when I put my arms directly in front of me.  I don’t think it’s something I’m very worried about!

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-24

Now I’ll show you the second blouse I made during the sew along!  This one was sewn as an open front cardigan.

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-53

I used the super soft Canadian-made black interlock fabric that we carry in our shop for the front of the cardigan and the sleeves.  It makes a nice spring cardigan because it is quite light weight.

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-55

For the yokes I used a sweater knit featuring a black and brown herringbone design that I had left over in my scrap bin from another project.

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-2

For the back of the blouse I used a polyester chiffon with a romantic floral print.  I had made it into a simple kimono in the past but didn’t do a very nice job of sewing it so I recut it to use in this project instead.  I’m glad I can finally wear this fabric because I think the print is so pretty!
Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-5

As you can see, I changed the back hemline shape so that it makes a very dramatic swoop.  I showed you how to do this in the Camas modification post.  I also lengthened the sleeves as we discussed in that post.

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-49

I think this cardigan will be very versatile in the spring and summer.  It can be worn over dresses or over jeans and a t-shirt.  The interlock makes it feel comfy and casual while the chiffon dresses it up without making the cardigan too delicate (since it is a tightly woven poly chiffon that doesn’t seem prone to snags and can be put through the wash and dryer).  Plus I can wear it with outfits that suit black OR brown – this makes any garment a win in my opinon!

Camas Blouse Sew-Along Closures-3


 

I look forward to seeing and hearing about your Camas successes and modifications!  I hope you enjoyed the sew-along.  Thanks for joining me :).


Fairfield Sew-Along: Schedule & Supplies June 09 2016

Welcome to the first day of the Fairfield Sew-Along!  We will be sewing our Fairfield button-up shirts in time to give as Father’s Day gifts if you would like.  Here is how the sew-along will be spread out:

Monday, May 16th (today!): Gather your supplies.

Wednesday, May 18th: Choose your size.

Friday, May 20th: Create a custom fit: Part 1 & 2

Monday, May 23rd: Cut into your fabric, match plaids or prints.

Wednesday, May 25th: Apply interfacing, sew the button placket.

Friday, May 27th: Pocket and pleat or darts.

Monday, May 30th: The yoke – using the burrito method.

Wednesday, June 1st: The sleeve placket.

Friday, June 3rd: Optional sleeve tab and attaching the sleeve to the body.

Monday, June 6th: The cuffs.

Wednesday, June 8th: The collar.

Friday, June 10th: The Hem and Buttons – we’ll be done!

Friday, June 17th: A round up of finished Fairfield Button-ups in honor of Father’s Day.

 

Don’t worry if you fall behind – this is a pretty fast pace for those just learning to sew a shirt.  Take your time and enjoy the process!  These posts will remain available for your reference on our website and blog indefinitely.


 

Let’s begin by talking about the supplies you will need for your Fairfield Button-up:

Fabric

 

Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics, a gorgeous fabric shop both online and in Berkeley, California, have kindly provided us with two different shirtings to use during our sew-along.  (By the way, “shirting” is just fabric of any sort that you think will make a nice shirt…I remember when the word “shirting” really intimidated me!).  Let me introduce these two shirtings to you:

 

Meet: A gorgeous chambray with black and red slubs.  This fabric is called “Sailor’s Dobby Chambray.”  When this fabric arrived I was so excited to use it that I ended up making it into a sample for the website photos!  I’ll still be including some shots of this shirt throughout the sew-along (close ups of seams and darts) but there won’t be any process shots due to the fact that the fabric was barely out of the parcel before it became a shirt.

 

I love how crisp this fabric presses and how light weight the finished shirt is.  It is most definitely a dress shirt rather than a casual shirt.  One reason why it feels this way is due to the light weight of the fabric.  The fabric is 100% cotton and weighs 2.75 oz per square yard.  To give you an indication of how light this is, our buffalo check shirting is a beefy 5.25 oz per square yard!  Light weight fabrics are always a good choice for shirts suited to formal attire.

 

The second fabric is an Ikat from the section specifically devoted to Ikats in Stonemountain & Daughter’s online shop.  It is called “Dakota Arrows Ikat” and is a navy broadcloth featuring a white woven arrow design.  I was pleased to find that the navy did not run into the white arrows when I washed and dried this fabric.  An exact weight for this fabric is not given on the website but I would estimate that it sits squarely between the chambray and our buffalo check brushed cotton.

 

This large scale print will be a great example to use when showing you my pattern matching tricks.  I plan for this shirt to be quite casual – I can imagine it worn with a pair of brightly colored summery Jedediah Shorts or with some cream colored chinos.

 

Aside from the Stonemountain & Daughter fabrics, one other fabric will be joining us for the sew-along: I have photographed process shots of the flannel shirt that I made for Matt and blogged about recently – it is a pretty low quality fabric that I purchased locally.  It is probably better suited to pajama bottoms or rag quilts but I picked it specifically because it features a printed right side and a white wrong side – perfect for clearly showing you my stitching lines in photographs.


 

Now that I’ve shown you my fabric choices, let’s talk about how you can make your own fabric choices:

To make a dress shirt:

  • Look for lightweight pure cottons with a tight weave.
  • Cotton Pique is the best choice for a very formal dress shirt meant to be worn to black or white tie events.
  • The fabric should iron crisply (does it wrinkle crisply when you crush the fabric in your warm hand?  This is a good indication that it will iron nicely).
  • Check that the fabric is opaque.  It is possible to make dress shirts with slightly transparent fabric because men usually wear undershirts beneath dress shirts but you will want to check with the wearer to make sure the level of transparency is comfortable for them.
  • Check out this great post that explains the various weave styles of cotton dress shirt fabric.  You’ll learn the difference between Oxford, Twill and End-on-End.

To make a casual shirt:

  • You can choose from a huge selection of fabric options for casual shirts!  Look for everything from cotton chambray to fairly thin boiled wools.  I have even seen casual shirts sewn in thin french terry fabrics (thanks to a customer who contacted me wondering if this is possible!) – a knit button up is very cool and casual but it would be quite difficult to sew detailed areas with precision when working with a lofty, stretchy knit.
  • A shirt will likely appear more casual if it features a loose weave, a unique texture, or a bold print.
  • If you love raiding the quilting section of the fabric store when sewing dresses, you might like to try doing so for a button-up shirt (if your prospective wearer is inclined to wear unique and bold prints like my Grandpa!).

To make a mock up:

  • Choose a cheap woven fabric of similar weight to your final fabric choice.
  • There are many affordable fabric choices when it comes to thin woven cottons – my favorite are used bedsheets (ratty ones from your linen closet or the thrift store) and broadcloth.  My local fabric shop often sells cuts of broadcloth (around 2m) for as little as $3-$5 CAD.

 

Interfacing

 

We will be interfacing the collar, collar stand and cuffs.  We will also be interfacing the button placket (only the side where the buttonholes are sewn).

Interfacing is a very important element of a button-up shirt.  In the past it was common to starch shirt collars but, since this is no longer the case, interfacing is relied upon to create a smooth, crisp, stiff look.  It is acceptable to use light interfacings on casual shirts or to even skip interfacing altogether for a very modern, pleasantly rumpled look but, it is by far more common to employ a medium weight interfacing.

I prefer fusible interfacings for shirtmaking because I like a very crisp collar.  I find fusibles (especially the Shirt Collar and Cuff Interfacing that we carry in our shop) add maximum crispness while adding minimum weight.  Just because I prefer fusibles for this situation, doesn’t mean this is the best option!  Feel free to use a sewn in interfacing or, even better, experiment with both styles!  One of my favorite shirtmaking reference books is Shirtmaking by David Coffin.  Within this book you will find that the author recommends cotton muslin as a sewn in interfacing – he sometimes even uses two layers of the muslin to create a stiffer and heavier collar.

Notions

The only other notions you will need for your shirtmaking project are buttons!  I recommend using buttons between 3/8″ and 1/2″ in diameter for a professional look.  It is very rare that a store bought men’s shirt will have buttons that are wider than 1/2″.  Lately I’ve noticed (since I have been fixated on shirts for many months now) that more ‘youthful’ brands tend to use smaller buttons with lower profiles.  When I say “low profile” I mean that the buttons are not very thick.

 

With this in mind, I designed the Corozo Buttons that we carry in our shop to be low profile and on the small side.  While thin plastic buttons may have a tendency to crack, Corozo buttons can be carved thinly without this risk – Tagua Nuts are extremely dense and strong.  I never see sets of shirt buttons smaller than 1/2″ in my local fabric shop so I hope these Corozo buttons with their 3/8″ diameter fill a bit of a void!  They are the perfect color to use as an accent on a casual shirt.

If you are sewing a dress shirt I would recommend using either a button that matches your fabric exactly or a classic ivory color.  If you would like to create a super casual look, pearl snaps are a fun option!


Fairfield Sew-Along: Choose your size and make a mock-up June 09 2016

Welcome to Day 2 of the Fairfield Button-up Sew-along!  Today we are going to go into great detail about selecting a size based on our Body and Garment measurement charts.  I’ve photographed each measurement using Matt and his favorite shirt as models.

A note for newer sewists:

Within the instruction booklet I explain which measurements are the most important to take.  If you are fairly new to sewing and fitting garments, you might like to skim over the information in this post but don’t stress about it!  If you find that the information overwhelms you, don’t worry!  Just ignore all of this!

Just take the main measurements that I mention in the instructions (Chest, Shoulder Width, Waist Circumference and Neck Size).  If you pick the closest size and make no adjustments (or just some very basic adjustments, such as lengthening the sleeves), you will still end up with a shirt that fits just as nicely as a store bought shirt.  You only need to immerse yourself in the nitty gritty of measuring if you want to create a tailored fit.

A note for sewists planning to create a tailored fit:

 

During this sew-along I am going to create a tailored fit by making a mock-up of the pattern and then basing my pattern adjustments on the fit issues that I see when Matt wears the mock-up.  The sample that Matt is wearing in the photo above was sewn with no adjustments to the pattern so you can see it fits him fairly well straight out of the envelope.  I think there is room for a few small improvements (I may adjust the slope of the shoulders) but most of my discussion of fit will be about fit issues you might have instead.

 

Ok, let’s get measuring!

Measure the Wearer (and compare measurements to the Body Measurements chart:

 

Chest: Measure the circumference of the chest by circling the tape measure around the widest point.  Keep the tape measure horizontal (I was running back and forth between the camera on timer and Matt so I apologize if my tape measure isn’t nicely horizontal in any of these photos!).

 

It is usually suggested that you raise the tape measure slightly at the back so that it is sitting on top of the shoulder blades – this way you are accounting for the widest point at center front and widest point at center back.  In the photo above I am moving the tape measure up and down to find the point where the shoulder points protrude the most.

 

Waist:  It can be a bit difficult to find a man’s waist since there is usually little difference between the waist and hip measurements when compared to female proportions.  I like to measure at approximately navel level.  If the man you are measuring has a bit of a belly, measure at the widest point of the belly.

 

Hips: Don’t worry too much about this measurement – it is only for reference to make sure that the shirt will be able to button-up to the lowest button if it were to be worn un-tucked.  Circle the tape measure around the widest point of the hips/seat.

 

Shoulder Width: Measure across the back over the shoulder blades – place the tape measure where the shoulder blades protrude most.  If the man being measured is wearing a well fitting t-shirt I like to use the sleeve seams as an end point.  Make sure to ignore the seams if the shirt is too tight or too loose.  Measure from where you think the sleeve seams should sit.

Height:  This is a nice measurement to have for reference but isn’t especially necessary.  The length of the torso and arms are generally proportionate to height but are certainly not always so.  It is most accurate to sew a mock-up or measure a shirt (as explained below) to determine whether you will need to lengthen or shorten the arms and body of the shirt.

Measure their Shirt (and compare measurements to the Finished Garment chart):

 

Neck Size:  Keep the shirt buttoned up and circle your tape measure around the inside of the collar stand.  If the neck size does not match our measurement chart, don’t worry!  We will be discussing how to fix this in the next sew-along post.  Neck circumference can really vary from man to man.

For the rest of the measurements, lay the shirt flat on the ground with the back pleat spread gently open (if the shirt has a pleat).  Depending on the style of the shirt, the side seams may sit at the widest point or they may sit slightly towards the front.  If the side seams sit towards the front, measure from the natural fold at the widest point instead of the seam.

 

Chest Width: Measure from side seam to side seam (or from natural fold to natural fold) at the widest point of the shirt.

 

Waist Width: Measure from side seam to side seam (or from natural fold to natural fold) at the narrowest point of the shirt.  If the shirt is rectangular and does not have shaped side seams that curve at the waist, measure at approximately half way between the chest and hem.

 

Center Front Length: Measure from the neckline seam (where the collar stand is sewn to the shirt body) down the button placket to the hem.  This measurement will indicate if you need to adjust the length of the shirt body.

 

Shoulder Width: Flip the shirt over so the back is facing you.  Measure from shoulder point to shoulder point.  It is handy to examine how the sample shirt, our pattern, the wearer, and our body measurement chart correspond.  If our body measurement matches the wearer’s body measurement but the sample does not match our garment measurement chart, it is likely the wearer prefers less or more ease across the shoulders than our pattern includes.

 

Center Back Length: Measure from the neckline seam down the center back of the garment to the hem.  This measurement will indicate if you need to adjust the length of the shirt body.

 

Sleeve Seam: Measure from the armpit, along the seam to the end of the cuff.  This measurement will help you to determine whether you need to lengthen or shorten the sleeve.

Select a Size:

I always recommend that you sew a mock-up without any adjustments to the pattern.  Here are two examples to explain why:

  1. A body measurement does not take into account where mass is distributed.  For example, your chest circumference may be the exact same measurement as the size Medium in the Body Measurement chart but this does not necessarily mean that the shirt will fit perfectly at the chest.  If your wearer has a rounded back, shoulder blades that protrude considerably or perhaps a barrel chest, the shirt will fit him differently than it does our fit model.  You will likely want to make adjustments to the pattern.  As soon as you try the size Medium muslin on you will see exactly where you need to adjust the pattern.
  2. The wearer might have individual preferences about fit.  When you sew up the mock-up and try it on your wearer, ask for their feedback!  For example, my dad always prefers a relaxed fit across the shoulders both for comfort (loads of arm movement) and aesthetic (he prefers the shoulder seam to extend to where the shoulder curves towards the arm).  We draft our patterns and create our measurement charts assuming that the shoulder seam will extend to the end of the clavicle.  When you sew the mock up you will discover any areas that don’t fit the wearer as he prefers.  That way you are adjusting the pattern based on his fit preference rather than our fit preferences!

Sew a Mock-Up:

 

Fitting based on a mock-up is a very visual procedure that I find to be lots of fun – way more fun than adjusting based on math and drafting prior to making your mock-up!  I look forward to doing this with you on Friday.

I’ve used an old bed sheet from the thrift store for my mock-up.  It was the cheapest one available ($2) and it contained plenty enough fabric for this project.  I much prefer using bed sheets to buying muslin for shirt mock ups because I am giving something a second life rather than requiring fabric to be produced just for the purpose of creating a mock up.  After I’m done with the mock up I cut it up into rag-sized squares to give it a third life!

 

When sewing a mock-up, don’t spend lots of time on perfect topstitching or design details unless you want the practice before sewing your actual garment.  It is unnecessary to add interfacing unless you would like to test out the interfacing options on a few mock-up collars.

 

Since I am familiar with sewing the sleeve placket, I didn’t even bother to sew this!  I just left the slit raw.

If you would like to save time and fabric, only cut one yoke, collar and collar stand.  I used two of each item here as the pattern instructs but this isn’t necessary for a mock-up!

Once you finish your mock-up, join me on Friday to try them on the wearer and discuss fit!


Fairfield Sew-Along: Create a Custom Fit June 09 2016

Today we are discussing how to fit our mock-ups of the Fairfield Button-up Shirt.

Before we delve into this, I have a quick announcement about the agenda: This post ended up becoming very long so I am posting the some of the fit adjustments today and the rest will be posted after the long weekend (Tuesday, May 24th).  I will catch up with the rest of the sew-along by posting both on Wednesday and Thursday.

 

Now, let’s talk about fitting!

Many months ago when I asked for your input while I was designing the Fairfield pattern, many of you gave me some insight into fitting issues you struggle with.  The main ones that you mentioned were:

  • A slim build (most patterns include too much fabric around the waist and in the sleeves for your figure)
  • A long body (most shirts are too short to tuck in comfortably)
  • An unusual neck size (thinner or thicker than most shirt patterns)
  • A rounded belly
  • Uncommon shoulder dimensions or shape (narrow, wide or rounded)

We will be addressing all of these today.  If you have a particular fitting puzzle that I haven’t gone over in the post below, please comment and I will try to help you out!

 

Let’s get started:

 

Put the mock up on your wearer.  Pin the mock up closed at center front all the way up the the collar stand.  Make sure the pins are pointed away from the wearer’s chin…ouch!

Choose a shirt size-6

Stand back and carefully examine the wearer and mock-up while they stand in a relaxed but fairly upright posture.

Most fitting reference books suggest that you address fit issues in this order

  1. Length issues (from neck to hips and then sleeves)
  2. Width issues (from chest down to the hips) and lastly
  3. Specialized alterations (such as a rounded back or belly).

I have also been taught in various fitting classes to address fit issues from largest/most obvious to smallest (while very generally sticking to the top to bottom rule but bending it if necessary).

Both approaches have worked for me in the past.  I find I change tactics depending on the garment type and the specific fit issues involved.  For example, I will use the first approach if there are very few unusual fit issues involved.  As another example, if a rounded back fit problem is quite severe, I will use the second approach because often adjusting for the rounded back will allow the strained fabric to relax and solve any length issues.

In an attempt to make this post very visual, I’ve pretended that Matt has a few of the following fit issues by pinning the shirt to make it smaller, larger, shorter or longer than it actually is.  I hope these photos help!

First we will look at the fit issue as it appears on Matt.  I like to ‘solve’ the fit issue on the muslin by cutting or pinning to visually get a grasp on how the change will look on the paper pattern.  Then it is just a matter of making the same cuts and adjustments to the paper pattern pieces.

How to fit a button up shirt (20)

When I cut the mock up apart I like to use medical tape or masking tape to hold the various pieces together.  This allows me to measure the open areas once I take the mock up off of Matt so that I can use these exact measurements when changing the paper pattern.

After each fitting explanation I’ve included resources.  These resources are blog posts that focus on one fit issue exclusively.  They go into greater detail then I have here since I am covering many fit issues at once.  Aren’t we lucky to have the internet filled with such amazing, instantly accessible resources?!

Before working with your paper pattern, make sure to draw in all seam lines!  Changes will be made from the seamline and not from the edge of the paper.

Length:


Torso

How to fit a button up shirt (1)

The hem should not become untucked when the arms are raised.  The hem shouldn’t extend beyond the bottom of the pant fly.

How to fit a button up shirt (2)

Solution:  Add or remove length to the shirt fronts, back and the placket interfacing.  Cut along the “Lengthen or Shorten Here” lines.  Overlap the pattern pieces to shorten and tape the pattern pieces to a new sheet of paper to lengthen.

Resources: Check out my tutorial on lengthening and shortening a pattern for all of the details!

 

Shoulder

How to fit a button up shirt (3)

The shoulder seam should meet the armhole at the end of the shoulder bone (before the shoulder begins to curve towards the arm). It is too long if it extends onto the arm.  It is too short if it causes the sleeve to pull and sits before the end of the shoulder bone.  I’ve pinned the shoulder seam so that it appears too short for Matt in the photo below:

How to fit a button up shirt (4)

Solution: You will need to adjust the shirt front, yoke, and shirt back.

Adjust the Shirt Front:  On the shirt front, cut into the pattern from the middle of the shoulder seam to the armhole seamline (3/8″ from the edge of the paper).  Cut into your armhole seam allowance slightly and leave a “hinge” of paper between the two cuts.

Here is how it looks on the mock-up:

How to fit a button up shirt (5)

And here is how it looks on the pattern:

Shoulder-length---front

  • To create a longer shoulder seam, spread the large cut open and allow the small seam allowance cut to overlap.  Tape the pattern piece to a sheet of paper to fill in the empty wedge and trim.
  • To create a shorter shoulder seam, overlap the large cut and allow the small seam allowance cut to spread open.  Tape the overlapped cut closed, straighten out the shoulder seam by drawing a new line with a pencil and trimming along this line.  Fill in the empty wedge in the armhole seam allowance by taping the pattern to a piece of paper and trimming.

Adjust the Yoke/Shirt Back: You have two choices here.

Shoulder-length---yoke

  1. Cut through the yoke pattern piece and spread it wider or overlap it (just like lengthening or shortening a pattern…but this time the cut is vertical rather than horizontal).  This adjustment is easy but it means you will also need to add or remove width to the shirt back which will change how the shirt body fits.  If you notice the muslin is too baggy or too tight, slashing along the entire shirt back will solve two fit problems at once.
  2. If you are happy with the fit of the shirt body and only want to adjust the shoulder length slash towards the armhole in the same manner as we did for the Shirt Front.  Here is how this looks on the mock-up:

How to fit a button up shirt (7)

And here is how this looks on the pattern:

Shoulder-length---yoke-2

Resources:

Note that both these tutorials use a second cut and hinge to raise the shoulder seam upwards.  This cut may seam a little fancy or confusing (which is why I don’t use it in the method above) but it will make it easier to draw a new shoulder seam because both halves of the cut shoulder seam will still match up fairly well.

Colette Patterns Albion Sew-Along: Adjusting shoulder length with a yoke

Curvy Sewing Collective: Narrow Shoulder Adjustment

Sleeve

How to fit a button up shirt (2)

The bottom of the cuff should sit where the palm meets the wrist (about 1″ below the protruding wrist bone).  Keep in mind that adjusting the fit of the shoulder can change the sleeve length so it is a good idea to fix any shoulder fit problems before finalizing the sleeve length.

Solution: Add or remove length to the shirt sleeve.  Cut along the “Lengthen or Shroten Here” line and adjust as mentioned for the torso.

Resources: Check out my tutorial on lengthening and shortening a pattern for all of the details!

Width:


Back and Chest

As I mention in the instruction booklet, choose your pattern size primarily based on the Chest circumference.  If you try the mock-up on only to find there is not enough arm movement due to strain across the back or that the fabric is pulling across the chest, the simplest solution is to pick larger pattern size.  You can then adjust the more detailed areas of the pattern (the neck size, the shoulder length, the hip width, the sleeve length) to suit the wearer.

Sleeve

We have drafted the Fairfield Sleeve to be fairly slim.  If you notice that the sleeve is too restricting when rolled up to the elbow, you might like to add width to the sleeve.  In the photo below I’ve pinned the sleeve along the seam so that it is about 1.5″ narrower than the actual Fairfield sleeve to show you how a sleeve width fit issue would appear:

How to fit a button up shirt (8)

 

Solution: Add up to an inch of ease by cutting horizontally across your sleeve pattern at the underarm and cutting vertically the entire length of the sleeve.  Leave a “hinge” at all four seam lines.  Clip into your seam allowances to make it possible to spread the sleeve open.  Spread the vertical cut line open the amount necessary to create some room in the sleeve.  This will cause the horizontal cut line to overlap which will shorten the sleeve cap very slightly.  Add the height back to the sleeve cap by drawing a slightly taller cap.

Here is how the vertical cut appears on the actual mock up:

How to fit a button up shirt (10)

And here are the cutting lines you would need to make on the pattern to add this extra width:

Add-room-in-sleeve

Resources:

I haven’t photographed/illustrated this adjustment thoroughly because the Curvy Sewing Collective has done a bang up job of doing so!  Their tutorials are awesome:)

Waist and Hips

The Fairfield waist curves inwards slightly to suit an ‘athletic’ or slim figure.  I have pinned the mock-up at center back in the photo below so that the shirt appears tight at the hips for Matt – this way you can see what the mock-up would look like if you needed to add width:

How to fit a button up shirt (12)

If the wearer has a fuller figure you have three choices:

Side-seam-adjustment

  1. Adjust the side seam shape so that it is straight or less curved.  This small adjustment will give the wearer a little bit more room but won’t solve any serious fit problems.
  2. Grade up to the next size at the waist and hips.  This is a great choice for figures who do not have a rounded stomach but who are stocky instead of lanky.  Their mass is distributed fairly evenly around their torso.
  3. Use our “Larger Figures” pattern. It is tricky to adjust a pattern to suit men with larger figures because men tend to carry the extra weight distributed mostly towards centre front.  This means it is necessary to angle the centre front in addition to adjusting the side seam shaping.  A button up shirt includes lots of detail at centre front so we made this adjustment for you!

Resources:

Check out our tutorial on grading between sizes – it is very easy!


Now that we have some of the basics figured out, we will move on to special fit issues on Tuesday.  These include, adjusting the neck size, adjusting for sloped or square shoulders, and adjusting for a rounded upper back.


Fairfield Sew-Along: Create a Custom Fit (Part 2) June 09 2016

Let’s continue our talk about fitting a button up shirt! Today’s post will cover adjusting the neck size, adjusting the shoulder slope, and addressing rounded shoulders.

Thanks for your patience while you waited for the second half of this post.  I really didn’t want to overwhelm you (and myself) by posting it as one immensely long and technical sew-along post.  I think it was better to address fit issues in chunks (must remember that for our next sew-along).

Fairfield sew-along

Today we’re talking about specialized fit issues.  Not everyone will come across these issues when fitting their mock-up, but if you happen to do so, you will likely find that it is difficult to find the solution by performing a quick Google search!  There are two problems when Googling these fit issues: 1. They can be labelled a variety of names and can often be solved using a variety of manners. 2. There simply isn’t much written on fitting men’s button-up shirts on sewing blogs (at least I can’t find much!).

This post will give you my preferred solutions and suggestions and will also refer you to other resources that may contain different solutions altogether; that way you can choose the approach that works best for you.


 

Adjusting the Neck Size

How to fit a button up shirt (13)

When choosing a size for the Fairfield Button-up, I recommend choosing based on the body measurement chart (specifically the chest circumference) and then adjusting the neck to fit the wearer.  We measured the neck size two sew-along posts ago and can now confirm how the neck fits by examining the mock-up.  As you can see in the photo above, Matt can fit two fingers between the collar stand and his neck comfortably.  I consider this to be the correct size – any tighter and the collar stand would become uncomfortable, any looser and it would gape.

Solution:

To change the fit of the neckline on the mock up (before transferring changes to the paper pattern), I find it best to work without the collar and collar stand.  Remove these if you sewed them on or sew a mock-up without attaching these pieces to the neckline.  Stay-stitch around the neckline seam line and then clip up to the neckline through the seam allowance so that the seam allowance does not interfere with the fit.

Before making any changes to the neckline, measure the exact circumference of the neckline along the stay-stitching – measure from one finished edge to the other.

Make the neckline tighter:

Cut a strip of your muslin fabric on the bias.  Wrap it around the neckline to fill in where the neckline gapes.  The raw bias edge will be your new seam line.

Make the neckline looser:

Draw a new seam line at the base of the neck.  Take off the mock-up and stay-stitch using your pencil marking as a guide.  Clip through the seam allowance up to this new seam line and try the mock-up back on your wearer.

Make changes to the paper pattern:

Measure the length of the new seam line on the mock-up with your measuring tape.  Compare this measurement to the original measurement.  Draw the new neckline on the paper pattern so that it measures the same as the mock-up.

Now that your neckline has a new measurement, you will need to choose the collar stand and collar size that suit it – the pieces intended for your size will now be too short or long. Here is a tricky little way of finding a new collar stand size without any pattern manipulation:  Find the difference between the old and new neckline measurements.  Select the collar stand size that is also that much smaller or larger than your original neckline.

Changing-neck-size

For instance, if I were sewing a size XS and I needed to enlarge the neckline 1″:  I would measure outwards from the tip of the size XS collar stand 1/2″ in each direction which would bring me to approximately size L.  I can adjust for any discrepancies of 1/8″ or so by making the neckline 1/8″ larger to fit the collar stand or by shaving 1/8″ off of the stand itself.  I would then select the collar size L to match the new collar stand.

Resources:

Tasia of Sewaholic does a great job explaining how to enlarge your collar pieces to match your new neckline (this is a good approach if you don’t have the option to choose the next size up or down from a graded pattern).

 

Adjusting the Shoulder Slope

How to fit a button up shirt (14)

A common fit problem for shirts and bodices is the slope of the shoulders – chances are the wearer’s shoulders do not perfectly match the way that the pattern slopes.

If you notice strain radiating from the center front in the upper chest and from the shoulder’s widest point (as you can see in the photo above), then the wearer’s shoulders are likely more square than the pattern.  The mock-up will likely feel too tight across the upper chest.  In the photo we had Matt put his hand behind his back and pull the shirt downwards to exaggerate this problem and make the radiating lines more obvious.

If you notice pooling loose fabric just below the shoulder across the front and possibly the back, this is likely because the wearer’s shoulders slope more than the pattern.  The mock-up will appear too loose across the upper chest.

Solution:

Change the slope of the shoulder seam to match the wearer.  In the photo below I’ve cut along the shoulder seam and part of the armhole to show you how the strain lines disappear when more room is given for the square corner of the shoulder bone.  I didn’t tape thoroughly enough to properly show you that the gap tapers towards the neckline – woops!  If the wearer’s shoulders were sloped more than the pattern you would need to overlap the muslin fabric rather than spreading it open.

How to fit a button up shirt (15)

To replicate this adjustment on the pattern, measure the amount that you have spread or overlapped the muslin.  Draw in your seam lines and then angle the shoulder seam higher or lower to match the muslin measurement.

Change-shoulder-slope.jpg

Now that you’ve changed your shoulder seam you will need to fix the armhole so that it remains the same size and shape as it was before your adjustment.  Raise or lower the armhole at the armpit the same measurement that you raised or lowered the shoulder.  Draw the armhole curve to match its original shape and length as closely as possible.

Addressing Rounded Shoulders

Also referred to as: Slumping Posture, Forward Shoulders, or, when referring to fit issues on women, the fairly offensive ‘Dowager’s Hump’.

How to fit a button up shirt (17)

How to fit a button up shirt (16)

This fit problem features many names, probably because poor posture is quite common.  Many of us tend to slump forward slightly.  If the problem is only slight, you probably don’t need to adjust your pattern.  If the problem is fairly pronounced (as it has always been for Matt), you might be pleasantly surprised to find that fitting the garment to the curve will make your posture look far less rounded!  I have heard stories about older women with very pronounced humps that are almost unnoticeable due to the careful way in which they fit their blouses.

Some people like to adjust for rounded shoulders by changing the shoulder seam position to angle forward to match the shoulders.  This removes fabric that pools in the upper chest and gives a little bit more room across the upper back.  This might be a good solution for you but the solution I have witnessed while taking a couple of fitting classes seems more suitable for Matt (though I haven’t actually tried this adjustment on him yet).  The location of the most curved or protruding area of the back can differ hugely from person to person.  The ‘hump’ can be located at the base of the neck, across the shoulder blades (as it is for Matt) or anywhere in between.

For Matt, the strain in the mock up is caused just as much by his spine curving towards the neck as it is by his shoulders curving forward.  In Matt’s case there are two curves to deal with: a horizontal curve (shoulders curving forward) and a vertical curve (neck sloping forward).

While the strain noticeable in the muslin may make you think that the back is wider than the garment and you just need to add width, you will find, when you cut across the strained area, that the strain does not disappear until you let the muslin gape open.  It is necessary to add extra length to accommodate for the vertical direction of the curve.

How to fit a button up shirt (18)

Luckily, a garment that already has a seam line across the back (a yoke), is quite easy to adjust!  You can add length to the shirt along the horizontal yoke seam. You can add width to accommodate the shoulders curving forward by adding a center back seam to the yoke only.  This vertical seam also gives you a fun chance to play with stripes or plaids (you can create a snazzy chevron effect by cutting each of the yoke halves on the bias). By the way, ignore the slash across the shoulder in the photo below – this was made for a fit adjustment in our last post and does not correspond to the rounded shoulder adjustment.

How to fit a button up shirt (21)

Here are the pattern adjustments that you will need to make to echo the slashes you made in your mock up if the wearer has a similar curve to Matt:

Dowager's-hump-adjustment

Resources:

Adjusting only the shoulder seam placement – tutorial by Maria Denmark

Adjusting for a dowager’s hump (various ways) – article by Sandra Kelly

The Dowager’s Hump adjustment in action by Mainely Dad (with a center back seam rather than a yoke – this allows you to see the finished shape we are attempting to create).

 


 

Whew!  I had been looking forward to fitting our shirts because slashing a mock-up to bits has a certain destructive appeal (at least for me lol) and I enjoy this tactile and visual approach to fitting after spending most of my time manipulating patterns on the computer…but I must admit, mulling over the fitting possibilities has a been a bit of a sewing mojo destroyer!  Don’t let fitting overwhelm you.  Just pick as many adjustments as you feel you can achieve and save the rest for future garments – your shirt will still fit better than most shirts off of the store rack!  It can be all too easy to get mired in the need to over fit but we won’t do that!  We’ll charge ahead and cut into our fabric tomorrow!


Fairfield Sew-Along: Cut into your fabric June 09 2016

Today is a great day for those eager to sew – we are cutting into our actual fabric at last!

To celebrate this progress we have an announcement to make before we start cutting:

We have another free pattern add-on download ready for you!  It contains a variety of cuff shapes to add to the Fairfield Button-up along with the necessary instructions.

Free-Pattern-Download---shirt-cuffs

Create a button-up shirt with snazzy angled cuffs (to match the shape of the chest pocket) or get really fancy and break out the cuff links to pair with the french cuff option.

If you download the free cuff add-on now your pattern pieces will be ready for you to cut out during our sew-along today!

And, in case you missed the earlier post, you can also find a free add-on for collar variations in our shop.  There will be more add-ons coming soon!


 

Okay, let’s get to the sew-along now:

Fairfield Sew Along - matching plaids and stripes-1

The first thing I suggest when cutting out a pattern is to wash and iron your fabric.  It is tempting to skip the ironing step (especially if you’ve just pulled the fabric warm out of the dryer and it is fairly wrinkle free) but it really makes all the difference when carefully matching prints such as stripes and plaids.  A wrinkled selvage can lead you astray when folding your fabric in half and may result in your pieces becoming off grain.  Long story short, take that extra step and iron your fabric before cutting into it!

The cutting layouts included within the Fairfield instruction booklet are intended to be used with fabrics that feature either one solid color or a print that you decide not to match.

If you are working with a fabric like this, go ahead and follow along with our suggested cutting layouts!

You will notice that part of the shirt is cut on folded fabric and part is cut on a single layer of fabric.  When working with a single layer of fabric you will need to work with the wrong side facing you (the right side is against the table or floor).  Working with the fabric placed in this direction will result in a center front button placket that faces the correct direction for menswear!  The Ikat I am using has no obvious right or wrong side:

Fairfield Sew Along - matching plaids and stripes-7

Keep in mind that you will be sewing quite a few flat fell seams on this shirt – I recommend clipping notches outwards rather than snipping into the seam allowance because an intact seam allowance is needed to create a tidy flat fell seam.  Some of the seam allowances are very narrow (1/4″) so it is also safest in these cases to clip outwards (even if they won’t be sewn into a flat fell seam).

Fairfield Sew Along - matching plaids and stripes-11

If you are working with a printed fabric, lay out your pattern pieces to suit your print rather than to match our cutting layouts.  Chances are you will need to deal with one of these three challenges: Matching, design placement, or a one way layout.

Fairfield Sew Along - matching plaids and stripes-2

One Way Layout:

If your print has an obvious ‘up’ and ‘down’ you will need to place all of your pattern pieces facing in a single direction.  Our cutting layouts do not need any adjustments to work for one way prints!

Many shirt patterns suggest that you cut your cuffs and collars with the long edge of each piece aligned to the grain/selvage.  I placed the pattern pieces with the short edges aligned to the grain/selvage so that the flowers or birds (or whatever directional print you have) face the same direction as the sleeves.  The only piece that is not placed in this manner is the under collar – it is so thin that you will likely not be able to see the direction of the print and it is also mostly hidden by the collar.  If you prefer, though, you are welcome to rotate it on your fabric so it’s longest edge runs from selvage to selvage.

Fairfield Sew Along - matching plaids and stripes-3

Design Placement:

Large scale prints with motifs that are several inches wide often need a bit of special treatment and extra fabric.  If you are attempting to match the print (across center front, for example), keep in mind that the design repeats less often than a small scale print.  According to my favorite sewing reference book, Reader’s Digest, Complete Guide to Sewing, a general rule of thumb to figure out how much extra fabric you will need is: “The length of one print repeat should be added for each yard of fabric called for.”

Fairfield Button Up Shirt Test Sewing (11 of 16)

If you decide not to match the prints you can instead place your favorite elements of the print in highly visible areas.  For example, you might like to place the most interesting or most complimentary colored motif across the chest of the shirt so that it highlights the face and is very visible.  You might like to ensure that the left chest does not feature the same motif as the right chest as this can tend to look a bit strange.

Also keep in mind to avoid choosing the same motif to feature on the yoke as on the upper portion of the shirt back – this immediate repetition of the pattern always appears jarring.

When working with a large scale print I like to cut small design elements such as the sleeve placket and the collar out of the least busy areas of the fabric so that the print doesn’t overwhelm the design.  In the photo below, the main column of the sleeve placket is positioned so it avoids the main elements of the ikat print:

Fairfield Sew Along - matching plaids and stripes-6

My Nonnie did a great job of this here – she avoided any large black areas on her sleeve placket:

Fairfield Button Up Shirt Test Sewing (15 of 16)

Matching:

Common choices for men’s shirts include vertical stripes, horizontal stripes or plaids.  If you have chosen one of these you will need to do at least a small amount of pattern matching.  In my opinion, there are three levels of pattern matching:

Fairfield-Button-Up-10

  1. You can take a very careful approach to matching that creates the illusion of a seamless garment by continuing the print across two or more pattern pieces.  In the photo above you can see that I cut the yoke and shirt back to carefully make the distance between the dots continue evenly across the seam line.
  2. You can choose one element of the print to match and ignore the rest – This is what I normally do.  It creates just enough harmony to make the shirt look thought out while preventing you from loosing your mind due to the frustration of cutting out and sewing perfectly matched printed pieces!  I find, for example, that a plaid or other grid style print still looks nice if only the vertical pattern is matched, leaving the horizontal pattern to position itself more or less randomly (or vice versa).  Of course, this is a matter of taste- you might not feel the same way about plaids and grid type prints.
  3. You can choose one main area of the garment (across the center front of the shirt) to match and ignore all other areas of the garment.  As you can see in my quick plaid shirt below, the yoke, cuffs and sleeve placket are not matched but the center front is (or at least it did match until I placed the snaps in the wrong position lol).

Fairfield-Button-Up-63

Fairfield-Button-Up-79


Regardless of which ‘level’ of pattern matching you hope to achieve, here are some guidelines based on the style of print you are working with:

Stripes: Horizontal stripes usually require extra fabric while vertical stripes do not.  This is only a loose guideline – if you are working with very wide vertical stripes, you may need to get more fabric than the pattern calls for because you will need to spread pattern pieces farther apart.

 

Plaids: Even plaids generally take less fabric to match than uneven plaids.  When working with plaids you must pay attention to both lengthwise and crosswise matching.

Even plaid:

Shirt Sewing Tools-8

Uneven plaid:

Fairfield-Button-Up-78


Now let’s move on to the specifics of print placement.

The Procedure:

This is the order of events when you would like to create a perfectly pattern matched garment.  I’ve adapted these from my Reader’s Digest, Complete Guide to Sewing.

Stop at step 1 for vertical stripes, at step 2 if you aren’t a perfectionist (that’s where I’m stopping today!), and at step 3 if you enjoy a good puzzle and want to put your pattern matching skills to the test!

Working-with-plaids---centering

1. Centering: Decide which lengthwise stripe or bar of plaid will be at the center of the garment.  For a men’s button up shirt, this is along the button hole and button placement markings.  I find it looks nicest to choose one of the smaller bars of plaid when working with uneven plaids – it can look a bit strange to have the widest and brightest bar running down center front like a runway!  For my Ikat shirt I have made sure that the button and buttonhole markings fall on the same double pointed prong radiating from the center circle.  Note that I didn’t line up the center front with the prominent circles to avoid the runway look.

Fairfield Sew Along - matching plaids and stripes-9

Place all pattern pieces so that the center front or center back is lined up with this specific stripe or bar.  When cutting a piece on the fold (such as the back of the shirt, fold the fabric so that the centered stripe is folded exactly in half.

Working-with-plaids---dominant-crosswise-bars

2. Place the dominant crosswise bars:  This is only a concern when working with plaids or crosswise stripes.  Usually the most dominant (brightest and widest) stripe is placed at an area that flatters the body.  For example, if the wearer wanted to make his chest appear broader, you might like to place the dominant stripe across it.  If he wanted to avoid accentuating a wide waist, you would want to avoid placing the dominant stripe at waist level.

Fairfield Sew Along - matching plaids and stripes-8

Pick a notch or our “Lengthen and Shorten Here” lines as a point of reference to ensure that the dominant stripe is circling the body at the same level.

Working-with-plaids---crosswise-matching

3. Crosswise matching: This type of matching allows you to continue a plaid or horizontal stripe across two curved pattern pieces at areas you prefer – for example, you might like the plaid to continue across the chest and into the sleeve as much as possible.  This isn’t really necessary to do but it can look quite fancy if you achieve it!  In order to do this, you need to work with the seam lines rather than the seam allowances.  Draw these onto your pattern pieces.  Then place the notches along the armhole and along the sleeve cap so that they sit on the same section of plaid.  It won’t be possible to match the plaid all along the sleeve cap (near the shoulder seam for example) but it is generally most effective to match near the notches and ignore the rest of the seam.


 

If all of that has you a touch overwhelmed, approach your printed fabric in a different way – here is how I like to think about cutting it out if I don’t feel like messing around with much matching.

A couple tricks to reduce frustration (and as a bonus you might use less shirt fabric!):  Men’s shirts present some great opportunities for playing with prints so that you don’t have to perfectly match them and so that you don’t have to waste so much fabric between each pattern piece (arguably the worst part of matching prints).

Fairfield Sew Along - matching plaids and stripes-5

  • Cut details on the bias – the pocket and sleeve placket can both be placed randomly on the fabric at a 45 degree angle so that you can utilize some fabric scraps rather than perfectly matching them to the chest and sleeve pieces.Fairfield-Button-Up-69
  • Add a center back seam to the yoke (don’t forget to add a seam allowance) – this way you can cut it on the bias to create a fancy chevron effect. You will only need to match the small vertical center back seam instead of needing to match the long horizontal seam between the yoke and the shirt back.
  • Only cut one yoke and collar stand and two cuffs from your main fabric.  Use a contrast fabric (possibly from your scrap bin) to cut the second yoke and collar stand as well as the remaining two cuffs.  This way you will have more yardage for pattern matching the exterior of the shirt and you will have a contrast fabric on the interior of the shirt (which can give a shirt great hanger appeal!).  Here is a very old shirt – my first button-up! – that I cut in this manner (but not because I was matching plaid obviously):

Contrast cuffs.jpg


To wrap things up, here are a couple of my favorite resources for matching plaids and stripes:

I’ll be back tomorrow with a post on applying interfacing and sewing the button placket!


Fairfield Sew-Along: Apply interfacing, sew the placket June 09 2016

Today we are applying our interfacing and then we will do a bit of origami to create the button placket.

Apply Interfacing

Within the instruction booklet I mention that you can create a stiffly interfaced shirt or a softly interfaced shirt.  I’ve photographed either end of the spectrum here by using the plaid button-up as my stiff example and the Ikat button-up as my soft example

The plaid shirt features very stiff interfacing – I added one layer of our crisp Shirt Collar and Cuff interfacing (back in stock very soon!) to as many pieces as possible.  The Shirt Collar and Cuff interfacing adds a maximum level of stiffness without adding much weight.  Here is where I added it:

The Left Front button placket…

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (1 of 81)

Both collar stands…

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (2 of 81)

The upper collar…Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (4 of 81)

The under collar… I toyed around with the idea of using two layers of interfacing on this piece but found it to be too bulky so I later peeled off the top layer that you see pictured below – two layers of interfacing is worth experimenting with if you love the crisp collar look like I do!  Just avoid making your collar too thick since this will make it difficult to achieve crisp points.  Doubling up would work best with a less dense interfacing.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (7 of 81)

…and all four cuff pieces (two of which are pictured).

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (10 of 81)

To achieve a casual softly interfaced look for the light and floaty Ikat, I interfaced as little as possible.  I used our Cotton Fusible interfacing to add a medium level of stiffness while still encouraging the fabric to drape and naturally mold to the body.  I added one layer of interfacing to the following pieces:

The Left Front placket…

Fairfield Sew Along - applying interfacing-4

One collar stand (the one without interfacing will sit against the neck) …

Fairfield Sew Along - applying interfacing-3

The upper collar (I left the under collar without any interfacing)…

Fairfield Sew Along - applying interfacing

Two of the cuff pieces (the two without interfacing will be the facings)…

Fairfield Sew Along - applying interfacing-2

Button Placket

We elected to create a button up shirt with a ‘grown-on’ button placket – this means that the placket is part of each shirt front instead of a separate rectangle of fabric that is sewn to the shirt.  We decided to draft the shirt this way because it is easier to match stripes and plaids across the most important area (center front) with fewer pattern pieces.  Also, the placket will be less bulky because there are no seam allowances enclosed within it.

To create the right front band to which the buttons will be sewn, fold the fabric with wrong sides together at the first notch.  Press along the entire length of the fold.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (13 of 81)

Fold one more time at the second notch so that the raw edge of fabric is enclosed.  You’ll see that the neckline will no longer have any strange jagged shapes and will now be one smooth curve.  Press along this entire fold.Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (14 of 81)

Stitch 1/8″ from the folded edge to secure the placket in place.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (27 of 81)

Now we are going to sew the Left Front placket – this is the one that the button holes will be added to and it is the one that we have interfaced.  Begin by folding the fabric with wrong sides together along the first notch just as we did before.  Press along the entire length of the fold.

The pins in the photo below indicate notch 2 and notch 3.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (19 of 81)

Fold again at notch 2 and press along the entire length of the fold:

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (20 of 81)

Stitch 1/4″ from the folded edge of the placket (the right edge in the photo above).  Think of this as a pin tuck (a small fold of fabric that is stitched closed).

Fold the placket outwards so that pin tuck faces towards the body of the shirt and press.  You can see in the photo below that this creates a smoothly curved neckline.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (24 of 81)

Now stitch down the other edge of the placket (the left side in the photo above) 1/4″ from the fold so that the placket appears symmetrical.


Not too difficult, right?  (Once you wrap your head around the origami folds!)  Tomorrow we will continue to sew by adding our pockets to the chest and sewing the back shaping.  I will be launching some free pocket downloads as well, so stay tuned!


Fairfield Sew-Along: Pockets, Pleats and Darts June 09 2016

Today we will be adding the chest pocket to the Fairfield shirt front and the darts or pleat to the shirt back.

Free-shirt-pocket-pattern

Before we sew the pockets though, I have another free download  to give you!  This download includes a variety of pocket shapes including:

  • A pointed pocket with top stitching and edge stitching
  • A rectangular pocket for a ‘workwear’ look
  • And a rounded pocket with a stylish shaped facing

If you would like to use these instead of the pocket that comes with the Fairfield Button-up pattern, you still have time!  Download the free file and cut out your new pocket from one of your fabric scraps.


 

Adding a Chest Pocket

The first step to adding a pocket to the left chest front is to determine it’s placement.  You can either follow our suggested placement markings or you can pick a position that suits the wearer’s proportions.

My favorite way to transfer pattern markings from the paper pattern to fabric is to use pins (you can also use a tracing wheel and transfer paper, tailors tacks or any other method that you prefer).

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (28 of 81)

To use pins, place your pattern on top of your fabric and stick a pin through each placement marking.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (29 of 81)

Flip the pattern/fabric bundle over and use the sharp points of your pins as a guide to place a second set of pins.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (31 of 81)

Peel the fabric off of the paper pattern piece.  This will leave you with one set of pins in the fabric and one set of pins in the paper.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (32 of 81)

At this point, you can mark the pocket placement with pencil or chalk (using the pins as a guide) or you can just leave the pins in the fabric until your pocket is ready to place on the shirt front.

To prepare the pocket, first fold the top of the pocket under (wrong sides together) 1/4″ and press.

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket

Now fold the top of the pocket with right sides together along the notched fold line.  Press.

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-2 Stitch on either side of the fold using a 3/8″ seam allowance.

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-3

Trim the seam allowance to reduce bulk.

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-5

Flip the top of the pocket right sides out and carefully push out either corner until it is crisp.  Press.

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-6

Fold in the remaining seam allowances 3/8″.  Be careful to keep your seam allowances accurate because wavering allowances will cause the pocket to look noticeably misshapen.

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-7

Edge stitch along the pocket top to keep the folded fabric in place.

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-8

Place the pocket on to the shirt front using your pocket markings as a guide.  The top corners of the pocket should line up with the top two placement markings.  Position the pocket within the other two placement markings to make sure it sits straight.

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-9

Edge stitch the pockets in place – you can use a variety of stitching styles.  The two that I suggest in the instruction booklet are:

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-10

A small triangle of stitching at either corner of the pocket and one line of edge stitching.  This results in a clean, minimalist pocket that suits dressier shirts (though ‘actual’ dress shirts generally have no pockets).

Here is a close up for the triangle in each pocket corner:

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-11

Or, two rows of stitching – one row of edge stitching and one row of top stitching.  This look is best suited to more casual shirts.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (37 of 81)

Here is a close up of how I join the edge stitching and top stitching:

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (38 of 81)

Sewing the Pleat (Variation 1)

Now that the pocket is finished, let’s move on to shaping the shirt back.  The pattern includes two variations – a small box pleat or two shaped darts.

To sew the pleat, work with the four notches at center back.  Position the shirt back so the right side is facing you.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (39 of 81)

Fold the outer notches (indicated by the green pins) inward so that they meet with the inner notches.Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (40 of 81)

Here is what your pleat will look like from the wrong side of the shirt:

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (41 of 81)

Press the pleat and stitch across the top of the pleat to hold it in place.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (43 of 81)

Sewing the Darts (Variation 2)

If you have chosen to sew the darts rather than the pleat, skip the above instructions.

Mark the darts in your preferred manner (I used my pin method) and chalk or pencil in the stitching lines using a ruler to connect the dots.

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-13

Pinch the darts in half with right sides together.  The widest point of the diamond should meet and your chalk lines should be aligned.  Pin thoroughly.

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-14

To avoid a pucker at either dart end, begin stitching at the center of the dart and work outwards.  Stitch off of the fabric and tie a not (rather than back stitching).  This will eliminate the risk of creating a bubbled dart tip due to bulky back stitching.

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-18

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-19

Repeat this for the other half of the dart.

Press the darts towards center back.

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-20

Fairfield Sew Along - sewing a shirt pocket-22


 

Are your shirts coming along well?  They will really begin to take shape on Monday when we sew the yoke!  Have a great weekend.:)


Fairfield Sew-Along: The Yoke June 09 2016

Today we are sewing the yoke on our Fairfield Shirts.  I like to use a method that many sewists lovingly refer to as “the burrito method.”  It results in a yoke seam and shoulder seams that have no exposed raw edges.  Let’s jump right in:

Begin by attaching your yoke pieces to the shirt back.  Lay one yoke piece on your work surface right side up.  Lay the shirt back on top of it with the wrong side up.  Baste the two layers together if you like (not necessary but it’s helpful if you are trying to maintain a perfectly matched print).  Lay the last yoke on top of this with the wrong side up.  This last yoke will be your yoke facing.  It is the visible yoke in the photo below:

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (45 of 81)

Stitch all three layers together using a 3/8″ seam allowance.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (44 of 81)

Grade the seam allowances so that one is 1/8″, one is 1/4″ and one is 3/8″.  This will help to reduce bulk.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (46 of 81)

Press both yokes upwards.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (48 of 81)

Edgesitch 1/8″ from the bottom of the yoke.  If you would like, you can also topstitch along this seam 1/4″ from the bottom of the yoke.

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-3

Now it is time to sew the shoulder seams.  To do this, let the yoke facing drop out of the way. You will only be working with two layers of fabric – the shirt front and the yoke.

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-7

Pin the yoke and front shoulder seams.

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-4

Stitch these seams using a 3/8″ seam allowance.

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-8

Now this is the point in to process when you will begin to understand why it is called the ‘burrito method’!  We will now proceed to wrap up our shirt so it becomes the filling and the yokes become the tortilla.  Let me explain:

Lay the shirt back onto your work surface so that the right side is up (you will be looking at the wrong side of your shirt front).  Make sure that the yoke facing is still drooping downwards.

Roll up the shirt back until you reach the yoke seam.  Roll up the shirt fronts until you are close the to shoulder seams:

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-9

Rolling up the shirt back will have exposed the yoke facing.  Fold it upwards and over your rolled shirt.  With a little bit of tugging you will be able to join the yoke and yoke facing shoulder seams with right sides together (and no other shirt fabric in the way).

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-10

Pin the shoulder seams and stitch using a 3/8″ seam allowance.  You will be stitching over top of your previous stitching line.  You can grade these seam allowances to reduce bulk too.

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-11

To dismantle your burrito wrap, pull all of the rolled fabric through the neckline.  You will be left with finished shoulder seams:

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-12

And a gorgeous interior featuring absolutely no visible seam allowances!

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-13

At this point you can edge stitch along the yoke shoulder seam if you would like – this is purely optional.  I like to do this extra stitching if I have decided to top stitch and edge stitch the majority of the seams.

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-14

And now you’ve completed a proper shirt yoke!

For this tutorial I used the same photographs that I traced to create the illustrations for our instruction booklet.  I thought it might be helpful to show you the photographed version of my instructions.  If you are stuck on any steps and want a different perspective than the photographs and illustrations provide, there are tons of excellent resources available!  Be sure to check these three out in particular:

Video Tutorial by The Sewing Arts Center (it’s very clear!)

Tutorial by Male Pattern Boldness (scroll down past the collar drafting part of the tutorial)

Tutorial by Grainline Studio for the Archer Shirt

I will be back on Wednesday to show you how to sew the sleeve plackets on to your Fairfield.  See you then!


Fairfield Sew-Along: The Shirt Sleeve Placket June 09 2016

Today we learn how to sew a shirt sleeve placket.  There are many approaches to sleeve plackets such as a simple bound edge or a delicate slit with a facing, but the tower placket is the best choice for menswear.  It is very sturdy and produces a great structured appearance.  If you examine store-bought men’s shirts you will likely struggle to find anything other than the classic tower placket on each sleeve.

Fairfield-Button-Up-31

There are a few different ways to assemble a tower placket.  In the fashion industry it is common to use two pattern pieces: The main tower (which is the part of the placket you actually see) and a separate binding piece for the inner half of the slit/vent.

At first we drafted our shirt placket in this manner but, after examination of every shirt sewing pattern that I could find (as well as an extensive search of tutorials on sewing a tower placket) it became apparent that there are more resources available in the sewing community for a different sort of tower placket – the sort that uses only one pattern piece.  We decided to switch to this style of tower placket so that it is easier for you to find help within the sewing community if it is your first time sewing a sleeve placket!

After trying both methods, I have come to the conclusion that both the two piece and one piece tower placket are equal – neither is more difficult to sew and the finished plackets appear exactly the same.  I don’t really know why the industry and the sewing community have developed two different ways to sew a shirt placket but I am curious to find out.  The only reason I can think of is that we sewists prefer to cut out fewer pieces so that we can get sewing sooner!  Probably not much of a convincing reason!  Do you have a better explanation?


My musings aside, let’s start sewing:

The key to sewing a great placket is to mark thoroughly and sew precisely as a result of your markings.

I like to mark on the wrong side of the fabric with colored chalk and a ruler.  To make my markings I pin the pattern piece to the fabric and make tiny snips with my scissors at the top and bottom of each line – make these smaller than 1/4″ so that you are snipping within the seam allowances.

Use a ruler to line up each snip and chalk in your line.  Don’t forget to chalk in the placement line on the sleeve itself!

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket

Place the placket on to the sleeve so that you are looking at the wrong side of both the sleeve and the placket.  Line up the placket’s “Y” shaped marking (between line 3 and 4) with the placket placement line on the sleeve.

Notice that the Main Column of the placket is closest to the center of the sleeve and the inner placket is closest to the back of the sleeve.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-2

Pin your placket in place by placing a couple of pins overtop of the “Y” shaped marking.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-3

Sew the placket to the sleeve by stitching along lines 3 and 4 to enclose the “Y” shaped marking in a rectangle of stitching.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-5

Now here’s the part that may make you a bit nervous if this is your first sleeve placket.  We are going to cut into the sleeve placket to create what is called the “vent”.  This is the slit that allows the sleeve to open up wide enough for the hand to travel through the narrow width of the cuff.

Cut up the “Y” shaped marking:

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-6

And then follow both branches of the “Y” by snipping to each corner of your rectangle of stitching.  Be careful not to clip into your stitching:

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-7

To reduce bulk and make folding your placket easier, you can trim the seam allowances that you have just created.  I like to trim to approximately 1/8″.  Leave the triangle of fabric created by the “Y” intact.  Only trim the long straight seam allowances:

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-8

Okay, trimming is done!  Let’s start the fun part – folding everything until it magically begins to look like a placket!

 

Fold along lines 1 and 6 – these are the two outer edges of the placket.  Press thoroughly.

If your fabric doesn’t press very crisply or if it frays easily, you might like to keep all of your folds from shifting around by dabbing a little bit of glue on the underside of the fold.  Many people like to use regular white glue sticks and a Q-tip for precision gluing.  Other people like to use double sided hem tape (which can usually be found in the notions section of your fabric store).

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-9

Clip horizontally towards line 5 so that you can free up the other seam allowance on the main column in preparation to press it over.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-10

Now press it over and tack it in place with glue/tape if desired.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-11

It is now time to create the attractive triangular point that is often found atop shirt sleeve plackets.  I’ve photographed two ways to do this – the first is the way I have seen in several shirt making books and tutorials.  The second way is the one that my Nonnie (my grandma) developed when she tested out our Fairfield Button-up.  We ended up including it within the instruction booklet because it makes it easier to create an even point!  That being said, her method includes smaller bits of fabric to fold…if you have have troubles with dexterity, you might like to stick the the first method:

Method 1:

Fold on a 45 degree angle so that the top right corner of the column is folded to meet the bottom left corner.  Press thoroughly and secure in place with glue/tape if desired.Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-12

Fold again on a 45 degree angle so that the top left corner meets the bottom right corner.  Shift the fabric around until the point of the triangle appears centered.  Press and glue/tape in place.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-13

Method #2:

Fold along the horizontal fold line to divide the extended portion of the main column in half.  Press and glue/tape if you would like.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket point-2

Fold both the left and right corners inwards so that they meet in the middle.  This will create an even triangular point.  Press and glue or tape if you like.  If you are not using either of these tricks to secure your folds, try temporarily pinning your triangle in place so that it doesn’t become unfolded in the following steps.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket point-3

Now our point is formed, we are ready to flip the entire placket to the right side of the sleeve.  Prepare to do this by pressing the seams where the placket joins the sleeve:

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-14

Push all of the placket fabric through the slit/vent.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-15

Flip the sleeve so that you can view the right side.  Carefully press along the three sides of the vent so that your sleeve placket is inclined to sit moderately flat:

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-16

It’s time to finish the inner column now!  Shift the main column out of the way.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-17

Fold along line 2 to enclose the vent’s raw edge.  Your inner column will look like binding.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-18

Stitch 1/8″ from the edge to secure the column in place.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-21

We can now finish the main column.  Spread it out so you are looking at the wrong side of the column.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-22

And then fold it in half along 5 to enclose the final raw vent edge.  Press thoroughly so that the column looks even and the point looks symmetrical.

The main column is positioned directly on top of the inner column like so:

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-24

Edge stitch along the main column from the bottom of the sleeve, around the triangular point, down the other side of the column for about 1″ and then across the main column.  Stitching across the main column encloses the raw edges at the top of both your main and inner column.

Fairfield-Sew-Along---sleeve-placket-23

Give your placket a final press and admire it!

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-25

Don’t worry, by the time you get to the second sleeve it will seem much less of a mystery and you will fly through it!

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-26


Resources:

An excellent Threads magazine article that teaches how to sew a precision placket.

This video demonstrates the placket as two pieces (the main tower and the inner binding).

This Sewaholic tutorial demonstrates how a differently shaped pattern piece can also lead to a classic tower placket.


 

Good luck with your plackets!  Take your time and use your iron lots.  We will continue with our shirts on Friday.  See you then!


Fairfield Sew-Along: Attach Sleeves and Main Seams June 09 2016

Today we are assembling the optional sleeve tabs and attaching the shirt sleeves to our Fairfield Button-up Shirts.  By the end of your sewing stint today you will be able to try on something that actually looks and fits like a shirt!

Let’s begin with the sleeve tabs.  They are very easy and are a great way to add a casual vibe to a button-up shirt.

Place two sleeve tab pieces with right sides together.  Stitch around all edges (except for the flat top) using a 1/2″ seam allowance.

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (28 of 99)

Trim and grade the seam allowances closely to reduce bulk as much as possible.  I like to trim off the excess fabric at each of the three points as well (this isn’t pictured in the photo below):

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (29 of 99)

Flip the sleeve tab right side out and press.

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (30 of 99)

Lastly, top stitch around the sleeve tab 1/4″ from the pressed edge.

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (31 of 99)

Repeat this process for the second sleeve tab.  Now that the tabs are assembled, it’s time to add them to both shirt sleeves!  The sleeve pattern piece includes a placement marking for the sleeve tab.  Transfer this marking to your fabric (I like to use my pin method – I place a pin through the paper pattern and both layers of fabric.  I flip the entire thing over and place a pin in the reverse direction.  I then peel off the paper pattern and make a chalk marking where the second pin has remained.)

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (32 of 99)

Place the sleeve tab on to the wrong side of the sleeve.  The point should face upwards and the raw flat edge should but up against the tab placement marking.  Pin to secure it in place.

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (34 of 99)

Stitch across the raw edge of the sleeve tab using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (35 of 99)

Flip the sleeve tab down over the stitching line and press.

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (36 of 99)

To enclose the raw seam allowance, we are going to sew a decorative box filled with an optional “x” of top stitching.  Stitch from wrong side of the sleeve using the edges of the tab as a guide.  The box can be as tall as you like – I’ve stitched it approximately 1/4″ tall here but you can make it 1/2″ or even taller if you like.  Stitch carefully because it will be visible on the right side of the sleeve.

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (37 of 99)

And that’s it for the sleeve tab (until we add the button and buttonholes later)!  Let’s attach the sleeve to the shirt body now:


 

Prep the sleeve pieces by folding over 1/4″ of the seam allowance to the right side of the sleeve.

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (3)

Next we will pin the sleeve to the body of the shirt with right sides together.  The folded edge of the sleeve lines up with the raw edge of the shirt body.

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (4)

When you add your pins, keep the folded 1/4″ out of the way.

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (6)

Sew the sleeve to the armhole using a 3/8″ seam allowance.  Don’t stitch the folded fabric into your seam by accident!  I find it helps to gently and temporarily unfold it so that there is no chance of this:

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (9)

Trim the smaller seam allowance (the armhole on the shirt body) to 1/4″ if you like to make it easier to create the flat fell seam.  If your fabric frays a lot like mine does, don’t trim to closely to the stitched seam or else it will weaken it.

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (11)

Finish the flat fell seam by pushing the seam allowances towards the body so that the folded sleeve head seam allowance encases the body seam allowance.  Iron carefully to make sure the flat fell seam is consistent in width.  Pin your folded seam allowances in place.  I find the more pins the better at this point!

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (13)Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (14)

Now you can stitch your tidy package of seam allowances closed so that no raw edges can escape.  In the photo below I am stitching from the right side of the shirt using a very scant 1/4″ seam allowance.  Stitching from the right side makes it simpler to stitch a consistent distance from the seam.  I have also tried stitching from the wrong side so that it is easier to see where the edge of the seam allowance package is.  You can try both ways to see which works for you!

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (15)

From the wrong side of the shirt you will see a tidy package of seam allowances like this:

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (16)

From the right side of the shirt you will see one line of stitching and one seam.

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (17)

Your first flat fell seams on the Fairfield shirt are finished!  Now we will dive right back in to sew the next set of flat fell seams – these ones feature the seam allowances on the right side of the garment and extend all the way from the sleeve seam to the side seams.

Begin by pinning the side and sleeve seams with wrong sides together.  The seam allowances are offset – the back of the shirt has a small 1/4″ seam allowance and the front of the shirt has a full 5/8″ seam allowance.  Offset them by lining up the notches at the hem.

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (18)

Here you can see the seam allowances offset and the hem notches aligned:

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (21)

Sew the entire seam from hem notch to the sleeve ends.

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (22)

Make sure to line up the seams at the armpit:

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (23)

Press both seam allowances towards the shirt front.  Press the 5/8″ seam allowance in half so that it’s raw edge meets the raw edge of the smaller seam allowance.

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (24)

Flip the entire package over towards the shirt back and pin it in place.  Stitch along the folded edge of the 5/8″ seam allowance.  Go slowly and tuck any fraying threads into the flat fell package as you go so that all you can see is the tidy fold.

I like to start at the hem and work my way towards the sleeve.  The sleeve feels a bit like stitching in a tunnel or, as my Nonnie described it, like looking down a well, but don’t worry, just sew slowly and shift your fabric often – you will get to the end of the sleeve soon!

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (25)

Give your flat fell seams a final press and step back to admire how tidy and professional both the outside and inside of your shirt look!

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (1)

Have a wonderful weekend!  I will be back on Monday with more of the sew-along.


Fairfield Sew-Along: Sew the Cuffs June 09 2016

Welcome back from the weekend!  It has suddenly become scorching hot and sunny here so even looking at these photos of a cozy flannel shirt is a bit of a challenge right now.  All the same, the one sided print will make it really easy to show you the details on today’s sewing process: We are assembling and attaching our cuffs!

Let’s begin by basting the sleeve pleat.  The notches to form the pleat are labelled A and B on the sleeve pattern piece.  I’ve color coded these with large black pins in the photo below.

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (59 of 99)

Place the sleeve with the placket spread open and the right side facing you.  Bring notch A to meet notch B.  I’ve marked the end of the pleat with a small green pin so that you can see how wide the finished pleat is:

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (61 of 99)

Give the pleat a gentle press and baste across the bottom of the pleat.

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (62 of 99)

Ok, now we can prepare the cuff!  Place the cuff facing on your work surface with the wrong side facing you.  If you have interfaced only two of the cuff facing pieces, use the un-interfaced pieces as your facings.

Press under the top of the cuff 1/2″.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (66 of 81)

If you like, you can baste this fold in place to keep it very crisp and even.  You’ll need to remove this basting later so if you hate stitch ripping you could also glue this in place!

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (67 of 81)

Place the cuff and cuff facings with right sides together.  Line up the curved bottom edges.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (68 of 81)

Stitch around the outside of the cuffs using a 1/4″ seam allowance – begin at the top (sew over the folded seam allowance), and stitch around the curved bottom of the cuff.  Leave the long, straight edge free of stitching.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (69 of 81)

Trim and grade the seam allowances to reduce bulk.  Clip triangles of seam allowance off of the curved corners:

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (71 of 81)

Don’t turn the cuffs right side out yet (I always feel like I should at this point!).  Pin the cuff to the sleeve with right sides together.  The cuff facing will be against the right side of the sleeve.  Keep the cuff facing out of the way of your pins.

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (63 of 99)

Stitch the cuff to the sleeve using a 1/2″ seam allowance.  Make sure to keep your pleat pressed correctly and your cuff facing out of the way!  Below is a photo of my cuff facing kept free of my pins:

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (66 of 99)

And a photo of the stitched cuff/sleeve:

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (65 of 99)

Grade the cuff seam allowance only.  Leave the sleeve seam allowance full length and press both seam allowances towards the cuff.

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (67 of 99)How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (70 of 99)

Here is the tidy package that you will have created!

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (69 of 99)

Pin the cuff facing in place over your seam.  If you like, you can baste it in place instead of pinning – this will ensure precision in the next step!

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (71 of 99)

From the right side of the cuff, edge stitch across the top of the cuff (remove the basting afterwards if you basted!).How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (72 of 99)

Now finish your cuff by top stitching around the entire cuff (1/4″ from the cuff edge).

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (75 of 99)

And we are done for the day!  On Wednesday we will add our collar and on Friday we will finish our shirts.

How are your shirts looking?  Please comment if there are any unclear steps for you – I would be happy to elaborate:).


Fairfield Sew-Along: The Collar June 09 2016

Today’s post will cover the last big hurdle when sewing a button up shirt: the collar.  On Friday we will be left with the comparatively simple tasks of hemming and adding buttons.

Let’s begin:


 

First, let’s stay stitch along the shirt neckline using a scant 1/4″ seam allowance.  This stay stitching serves two purposes: 1) It prevents the neckline from stretching out as we work with it and 2) it allows us to clip into the seam allowances without the fear of fraying beyond the allowance.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (72 of 81)

Clip every 1-2″ along the neckline up to your stay stitching.  This will allow you to lay the neckline out flat and fairly straight.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (73 of 81)

Now to assemble the collar:

Pin the upper collar and under collar with right sides together.  You will notice that the under collar is very slightly smaller than the upper collar – this is to provide enough room in the upper collar for the collar to curve gently over the collar stand.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (74 of 81)

Stitch around the two sides and the long top edge of the collar using a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Leave the bottom of the collar (where the collar attaches to the collar stand) free of stitching.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (76 of 81)

Grade the seam allowances and trim the corners to reduce bulk.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (77 of 81)

Turn the collar right side out and press.  When I press collars I like to gently push out the corners with a point turner (or chopstick) and then ever so slightly roll the seam towards the under collar.  This will ensure that the seam doesn’t roll to the upper collar during later steps.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (78 of 81)

Pull the two remaining raw edges so that they are even and the upper collar is relaxed and slightly bubbled.  Baste the raw edge closed using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (81 of 81)

Finish prepping your collar by top stitching 1/4″ from the collar edge around the two sides and the top of the collar.  Don’t forget to complete this step!  I have forgotten to do this a couple of times and forgot to take a photo of the stitching this time.  I don’t know why this step slips by me so frequently!  Here’s a photo of a finished collar so you can see the 1/4″ top stitching:

Fairfield-Button-Up-40

Now we can attach our collar stand and collar to the shirt!  Exciting!

Pin one collar stand (the interfaced stand if you only interfaced one of the two collar stands) to the shirt neckline, right sides together.  Align the notches with center back and the shoulder seams.  The collar stand should extend exactly 1/4″ beyond either end of the shirt neckline (this is the seam allowance).

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar

Stitch across the neckline using a 1/4″ seam allowance:

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-3

Grade the seam allowances (I trimmed the neckline seam allowance and left the collar stand allowance whole).  Press the allowances towards the collar stand.

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-4

Pin the collar to the collar stand so that you can see the upper collar.  The under collar will be against the right side of the collar stand.  The collar will fit between the two notches.

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-5

Baste the collar in place using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-6

Prepare the remaining collar stand by pressing under the 1/4″ seam allowance along the bottom of the stand (this is the part that attaches to the shirt).

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-7

Pin the remaining collar stand atop the collar so that the right side of the collar stand faces the upper collar.

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-8

Begin at one end of the collar stand exactly where the stand extends beyond the shirt placket.  Stitch around the collar stand using a 1/4″ seam allowance and end exactly at the other shirt placket.

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-10

Here’s how it looks from more of a distance:

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-11

Complete the collar by carefully pinning the folded edge of the collar stand over your neckline seam.  I like to use quite a few pins for this job to make sure the collar stand won’t slip or stretch.

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-12

You can choose at this point to baste the collar stand fold in place and then stitch from the right side of the garment or you can stitch from the wrong side of the garment.  I usually stitch from the wrong side of the garment because Matt wears his shirts open at the collar – this means the most visible stitching is either tip of the collar stand on the insiderather than the outside.

Either way, edge stitch 1/8″ from the collar stand edge around the entire stand.  If you like, you can tuck a garment tag into your collar stand bottom before you edgestitch:

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (94 of 99)

Finish your collar by giving it a thorough press.  I like to encourage the collar to shape nicely by pressing on a tailor’s ham so that the collar rolls over gently and the collar stand takes the rounded shape of the wearer’s neck.  You can see the bend in my collar in the photo below:

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-13

I encourage you to explore a different method of creating a shirt collar with each shirt you make.  There are many interesting methods, a few of which are well documented online.  They all use the same pattern pieces so you can work with all of them while sewing up a batch of Fairfield Shirts.  Pick the one that suits you best or meld together your favorite elements of each for your own unique method!

Here are some resources for different collar construction methods:


 

How did it go?  Does your collar look super professional?  I hope you are proud of yourself!  This is some pretty fiddly and precise sewing you have accomplished!


Fairfield Sew-Along: Hemming and Buttons June 17 2016

Father's Day Sale 2016

It’s the last day of our sew-along and Father’s Day is 9 days away!  Let’s finish up our shirts today so they are ready to give to your dad on his big day.

But first, you will probably want to know that we’re celebrating dad by putting all of our PDF patterns on a 50% off sale until 5pm (PST) on Father’s Day, June 19th!  You still have time to sew something nice for him.:)


 

To finish our shirts, let’s begin with the hem – a quick and easy task!  Press up the hem allowance 1/4″:

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt

Press up the hem again 1/4″ to enclose the raw edge:

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-3

I like that the curved hemline at the hip doesn’t interfere with pressing the hem.  It’s just the right amount of curve to provide shaping without bunching up at the peak.

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-4

Stitch along the entire hem.

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-6

And now, let’s move on to our buttons!  While many people dread sewing buttonholes (I can’t say I look forward to them myself), there is no need to get too uptight – just use a few tools and tricks and you will be surprised how professional they look when you are done!

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-7

I like to use our expanding gauge to mark my buttonholes.  I generally ignore buttonhole markings on the pattern pieces and instead place my primary buttonholes at important points before spacing the rest evenly between them.  When sewing shirts for Matt I ensure that a button is placed at the widest point of his chest and also that the top button is placed nicely.  He likes to leave the collar stand button undone (as most men do when they are not wearing a tie) so it is important that the top button is not set too low so as to expose a bunch of chest hair or something!😛  If the person you are sewing for has a rounded belly, make sure to put a buttonhole at the area of greatest strain so that the shirt does not pull open.

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-8

Even though the buttonholes are sewn vertically, I like to make a horizontal marking – this way I can use this marking as a placement for my presser foot and the top of the buttonhole.  I then use my placket top stitching as a guide to keep the buttonhole exactly in the center of the placket.  The top stitching is easier to see while sewing with a buttonhole attachment than a vertical chalk marking would be.

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-9

Make sure to make a practice buttonhole before you begin on your shirt!  I tend to choose a buttonhole length that is slightly longer than my button.  For instance, I am using 3/8″ wide buttons (from our shop) for this shirt so I sewed a 1/2″ buttonhole.  This extra length allows the button to slip in and out easily.Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-10

Apply your buttonholes to the collar stand, shirt front, and cuffs.  If you like, sew the bottom button hole on your shirt front horizontally.  You could even opt for a fun contrast thread for this bottom buttonhole.  This flashy little detail is quite common on store bought shirts and is a great way to add a bit of creative flair to such a traditional garment.

I find the trickiest part of sewing buttonholes actually occurs after the sewing is finished!  It is quite devastating to make a mistake when cutting open your buttonhole.

My favorite way to open buttonholes is with the extremely sharp chisel that we sell in our shop.  I didn’t even need to use a hammer to cut these buttonholes – I just pressed down with the chisel and they sliced open in the most satisfying manner.Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-11

The chisel is 1/2″ wide so it was the perfect width for my buttonholes.  The inside of the hole looks so tidy when it is cut this way!

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-12

Alternatively, you can use some sharp and precise scissors (such as the Merchant & Mills buttonhole scissors in our shop) or employ your seam ripper.

I highly recommend using a fresh and sharp seam ripper and a preventative pin at either end of the buttonhole to prevent cutting through your buttonhole and adding a gaping slice to your carefully sewn shirt!  You can see how this preventive pinning technique works near the bottom of this tutorial by Made Everyday.

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-13

Lastly, it’s time to add our buttons!  If you are matching stripes across the shirt, be very careful with your button placement.  Position the button so that it will sit near the top of each buttonhole.  If you simply place the button at the center of each buttonhole you will find that the buttons slip up to the top of the holes during wear and your stripes will look like they are not properly matched!

If your buttons tend to work loose or fall off over time (mine used to constantly!), you might like to check out the button sewing technique that I learned in design school.  It was (almost) worth the cost of tuition to learn this technique alone!

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-15

And, that’s it!!! We are done!!!  I hope you’ve enjoyed following along with this sew-along.  I can’t wait to share some of your finished Fairfield Shirts next Friday.  Be sure to share your makes by email (info@threadtheory.ca) or by using #fairfieldbuttonup

Even if you can’t photograph your shirt on a model (don’t ruin the Father’s Day surprise for your dad by asking him to model before Sunday!), you can photograph your shirt hanging from a clothes line or pleasingly folded up beside your sewing machine.  Whatever sort of photo shoot you come up with will be perfect – it makes my day seeing your finished makes, your fabric choices and your design decisions.

Thanks for following along!  Happy sewing!


Fairfield Sew-Along: The Parade June 17 2016

Stonemountain Fairfield Shirt

Father’s Day sewing plans aside, today I want to show you an inspiring selection of Fairfield Button-up Shirts sewn by you as well as the finished Ikat Fairfield that I sewed during our sew-along.

Stonemountain Fairfield Shirt-3

Matt really loves this print (an Ikat from Stonemountain & Daughter Fabric) and I think the indigo blue looks lovely with his brownish/blue eyes.

Stonemountain Fairfield Shirt-6

I’m really happy with the casual look that the contrast Tagua Nut buttons gave to the shirt.  The amber color looks very summery against the blue – like the sun against a blue sky!

Stonemountain Fairfield Shirt-13

I decided to sew the buttons on by forming a cross with my shirt to echo the print of the fabric (usually I sew two horizontal lines when working with four hole buttons…sort of like train tracks).  I’m not sure if this echoing of the motif is too subtle that it is virtually unnoticeable.  I notice it though!

Stonemountain Fairfield Shirt-4

Matt really likes how the print placement worked out on the back yoke.  I’m glad I decided against placing the yoke on the bias.  I think the print was just a bit too large in scale for this cutting technique to have been effective.  I’m pretty pleased that the print matches along the collar and yoke at center back!

Stonemountain Fairfield Shirt-7

With all the shirt sewing that I’ve been doing lately, Matt’s closet is beginning to look quite fresh and full!  I have been choosing his fabrics with a general theme of “blue and bright” since last winter his wardrobe had become almost exclusively dull brown and olive green.  The influx of a few bright colored items has made a huge difference!  I might do a photo shoot of his new shirt wardrobe soon – all of the prints and colors look really nice together.
Stonemountain Fairfield Shirt-12

Now, the best part of this blog post – it’s time to show off your Fairfield Shirts!

Plaid Fairfield Shirt

_ym.sews_ achieved beautifully crisp cuffs and excellent print placement for her plaid Fairfield.  I love the careful use of contrast fabric for the cuff facing, collar stand and yoke facing!
Anniversary Fairfield Shirt

tiny_needles whipped up this Fairfield so quickly!  It was the first Fairfield Button-up that I saw in the wild after our pattern release.  Her boyfriend wore this very dapper shirt for their anniversary celebrations.

Fairfield Button up featuring sleeve tabs

One of our test sewers, Sarah, sewed this fresh and summery Fairfield for her husband.  I like how the sleeve tabs add such versatility to this shirt.  With the sleeves full length it looks very dressy but with the sleeves rolled up it takes on an airy and comfortable vibe that could easily work with brightly colored shorts!

Fairfield Button up with contrast yoke and pocketAfter completing her first Fairfield Button-up, Sarah immediately cut out another one – this time for her brother!  She had a lot of fun playing around with the stripes (she added a seam down center back) and she added some hidden froggy details.  Isn’t the frog peaking out of the front pocket such a great idea?!  She added a lining to the pocket to achieve this detail.

Fairfield Shirts by you

These three Fairfields have been sewn by bego_aguilera_caballero, Ana, and sewing_dutch.  The whimsical print on Begoña’s shirt is just lovely (especially with those dreamy houseplants as a backdrop). Ana sewed the band collar (available in our Alternate Collars free download) on her green linen shirt.  The band collar and linen are a match made in heaven!  Lastly, the subtle floral yoke adds such hanger appeal to Becca’s shirt.  She also sewed a striped grosgrain ribbon down the right front of her shirt which adds structure (for stronger buttons) and the perfect contrast if the top button is left undone.
Scared Stitchless Fairfield Shirt

And last, here is a great example by scaredstitchless of how much fun you can have when sewing a wearable mock-up!  Quilting cottons provide a limitless palette of bold colors and unique prints.  I’m impressed that she managed to find perfectly matched orange buttons!
Thank you, everyone, for joining me on the Fairfield Sew-along and for sharing your Fairfield photos by emailing me or by using #fairfieldbuttonup !  It’s been a thrill to see how smart your shirts look.  If anyone has wrapped up their shirt to give on Father’s Day, I look forward to hearing about the grand reveal!